Costa Rica: Business Etiquette
by Going Global
When eating at a restaurant, the bill is usually paid by the inviting party. Attempts to pay by the guest can make a negative impression. Instead, guests invite their hosts in return. However, this depends to a large degree on how much influence foreign etiquette or multinational company culture has on the organization. At dinners and social events, people tolerate a delay that can vary from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the degree of familiarity between the persons. However, a delay of 5 to 15 minutes is acceptable in meetings with a certain degree of formality.
A typical Costa Rican dish, mainly at breakfast, is Gallo Pinto. It consists of a mixture of rice and beans combined with spices such as onion, coriander and pepper. It is usually served with fried eggs, a tortilla and sour cream. A wider variety of dishes is common for lunch or dinner, with international cuisine (mainly from Peru, Mexico, Spain, China, Japan, Italy and Lebanon) common in restaurants and at formal events.
If only the negotiator or the individual being recruited is invited, then the conversation in the restaurant will most usually deal with business matters. This will most likely take place at lunchtime. If a couple or the entire family is invited, business will seldom be the topic. This will most likely take place over dinner. Casual clothes are usually worn to lunch and dinner, unless otherwise required by the restaurant. Keep in mind that more elegant clothes are usually worn at night.
Law demands a ten percent tip in restaurants, as well as 13 percent sales tax. Some restaurants add extra tips to the bill.
Attending parties and other social events is important for relationships in Costa Rica. Rules for introductions, greetings and courteous treatment are very important. It is ideal to behave confidently and in a well-educated fashion, which involves respecting cultural, local and organizational differences, particularly in relation to hosts.