Cultural do’s and dont’s in Peru

When you are conducting business in Peru, be aware that cultural differences in appropriate behavior might exist between you and your Peruvian partner. For Peruvians, building a personal relationship with a business partner is considered crucial, and your Peruvian counterpart will likely want to get to know you first before making a deal. It is therefore wise to visit your Peruvian partner and to prepare yourself for lengthy negotiations. Since most Peruvians will speak a little bit of English, bring along a Spanish interpreter to your business meetings and negotiations. Peruvians can be quite informal when doing business, but be sure to use formal ways to address your Peruvian partner(s). Respect a person’s business title, but ‘Señor’ or ‘Señora’ are also acceptable to use. Don’t use first names only, unless you are invited by the person to do so. In terms of communication, Peruvians favor an indirect style, so don’t be too direct. It is better to imply what you want to say and maintain your composure. Be sure to make eye contact when talking to your partner(s), as this creates an atmosphere of trust. Other important things to keep in mind:
  • Peruvians are known to have relaxed time keeping, and it is not uncommon for them to be 30 minutes late. It is important that you don’t get angry or impatient for them being late. Schedule your appointments as loosely and flexible as possible.
  • If you are invited to someone’s home, you should bring a gift. Suitable gifts are: flowers (no dark colors like black and purple), good quality wine, liquor or chocolates. It is better not to give knives or odd numbered items as they are perceived as bad omens/luck. When you are offered a dinner invitation or something to eat when you are their guest it is impolite to refuse. Conversations topics that are appropriate to use, are: family, soccer, places to visit in Peru and local food. Topics that might be perceived as inappropriate are: politics, religion, terrorists and a person’s ancestry.
  • While most Peruvians will be able to speak English, it would be wise to have a Spanish version of business cards.
  • Dress conservatively and keep your gestures friendly and inviting.
  • Peruvians tend to speak closer to whom they wish to speak with than what some people are used to. Speaking closely and kissing on the cheek is considered normal behavior.