Peak Translations

How to ‘Tango’ in Argentina

Having lightly skimmed the surface of business culture in Latin America previously, it is time to delve a little deeper into the depths of one of the area’s leading countries for international investment, Argentina.

In this blog, you will be transported to the cosmopolitan country of Argentina, a 33-million populated land full of diversity, where its official language Spanish is unlike any Spanish spoken across the rest of Latin America, with its passionate Italian expressiveness and sing-song intonations due to its roots with the boot-shaped European country.  After all its political and social instability, it can now be said of this country that the ‘economic future’s bright and the international investment future is Argentina’. However, Argentina is like dealing with a delicate plant; if handled correctly, in other words, being well prepared in Argentine business cultural etiquette, a wealth of rewards can be reaped, but if treated carelessly, relations can wither and die.

Buenos Aires, Argentina - December 31, 2011: Street Performers dance the Tango in the La Boca (Caminito) tourist district of Buenos Aires.

To help nurture this potential blossoming business relationship with Argentina, it would be advisable to take the following seeds of cultural advice into account: –

Handle carefully
Historical issues have caused great mistrust amongst Argentineans therefore focus your business negotiations on the present, without too many lengthy future plans coming into the equation.

Go straight to the source
Don’t waste your time talking to the wrong person. Make sure you find out who the decision-maker is as social hierarchy is big in Argentinean businesses. Above all, be patient and resilient. Once decisions are made, implementing them can bring a whole host of bureaucracy.  Just as in Brazil, it might be wise to find yourself an Argentinean contact to help negotiate those challenging hurdles.

Build good relationship blocks
Argentineans favour the business ethos of doing business with people and not companies. Build a strong rapport and your investments will go the distance.

Learn the business Argentine lingo
Although Spanish is the official language of Argentina, French, Portuguese and English are the three other main languages spoken during business negotiations. In fact, if English is spoken during meetings, it is generally an Argentine wishing to highlight their education. Show courtesy to your Argentinean counterparts addressing them as Señor or Señora and politely ask them Cómo andás?/How are you? Using the correct version of O.K, which is ‘Dale’ as opposed to the European Spanish  ‘Vale’ would also impress.

Master the art of conversation and the personal touch.
If you want your business to get somewhere in Argentina, then shed your email banter and pick up the phone, or better still, go and build up close and personal business relations in the country. Although communication is done through emails, Argentineans love face-to-face conversation.  Be prepared for plenty of small talk on current topics, sport, opera and personal life, especially over dinner, which might well take place in their home; in this case, arrange to send flowers to the hostess, such as the highly-prized Bird-of-Paradise flowers, which will serve you well. Like the intricacies of a well-stitched tapestry, the art of communicating well, will help develop trust and bind long-lasting relationships.

Be aware of business etiquette
Out of all the Latin American countries, Argentina is considered the most formal, which means, dress smart and conservatively. Arranging appointments in advance and confirming them a week ahead of schedule is also advisable, as is punctuality to a meeting, although for the Argentine counterpart, being on time is not so important.

Patience is the essence.
Business meetings don’t always provide immediate decisions and are more based on exchanging ideas and discussing them, with settlements coming later.

You are now armed with a few ‘Tango’ moves to show off to your potential Argentinean business colleagues!

By Madeline Prusmann (Project Manager), August 2016





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