What to Expect When You Have a Meeting in Spain

24 April 2015 0 Comments Category: Barbara de Swaan, Just Landed

We all know the bad fame Spanish people have regarding punctuality. Mañana, mañana , but what does that mean? Well, I have been living in Barcelona for almost 15 years now and I still find it hard to interpret that the right way. First of all you have to make a distinction between a social meeting and a business meeting.

Social Meeting

Let’s say you have agreed to meet up with a big group of Spanish friends to go to the mountains on a Saturday morning. The message says that they will meet at 9 AM in the local bar and leave together from there. So you wake up early, fight your way through waking up your family, preparing the cool box and all other things. Making breakfast and drink a quick cup of coffee in order to be there on time. It’s 5 minutes to 9 AM and you are lucky to find a parking spot right in front of the bar. You run out of the car, because it’s almost time and you don’t want to make your friends wait. Entering the bar, you see that only one family has arrived before you and they just ordered a complete Spanish breakfast. They wave at you and laugh at your punctuality. Didn’t you see the Whatsapp about Maria who overslept, Juan who couldn’t get his car started, Angeles who lost her kids and all the other messages?

Around 10 AM the last family arrives and all of a sudden the whole group starts running to their cars because they don’t want to leave too late. Surprised and completely stoned by your third coffee that morning, you follow the group and learned your first lesson: next time you can sleep an extra hour.


Professional Meeting

“Shall I go to your office or do you prefer to come to my office?” you ask your client politely.
“What about meeting for lunch and talk business at the same time?” your client proposes. So there you go, your first Spanish lunch at 3 PM is scheduled.

Hungry and eager to do some interesting business you’re waiting for your client outside. At 3.15 PM he finally arrives without an excuse for being late, because in his point of view he’s perfectly on time. You try to shake his hand (formally) but before you know it, you have received two kisses on the cheek (A Spanish welcome). He shows you in, asks for the best table and tries to impress you by ordering the waiter around. Without consulting you, he asks for a bottle of (cold) red wine and shows you the menu. Just when you are about to start talking about business, he takes out his phone and shows you pictures of his whole family, explains the last weekend activities and asks you about your private life. You better sit back baby, this is going to be a long lunch with lots of alcohol and way too much food. Mañana you can E-mail him your proposal, now is not the time to do business but the time to build a relationship of trust!

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