Excerpted from the Nicaragua Career Guide
Over the past few years Nicaragua has taken significant advantage of its trade and tourism potential. As a result, its general and business cultures have felt the influence of foreign cultures as well as the organizational cultures of multinational companies.
One should avoid talking to people on a first-name basis upon the first meeting. One should use señor for a male or señora for a female, plus his or her last name.
Professionals are usually addressed by their titles. Thus, terms like licentiate, engineer, doctor and architect normally precede the individual’s name. Although relationships between managers and workers used to be rather distant, over the past few years they have become closer.
Nicaragua’s official language is Spanish. English is not commonly spoken except by top and middle management. English is, however, gaining more use among young people, because new job opportunities require English skills.
If You Want To Act Like a Local
- Nicaragua does not use a street name and house number system; rather, directions are indicated by a reference point and cardinal directions.
- Bartering is very common in Nicaragua.
- Always keep spare change in the pocket, as sellers usually cannot break a bill.
For initial greetings, when introducing a manager or officer, older people always introduce younger people, and senior employees introduce junior employees. Once introductions are made, the rule is for seniors to take precedence in shaking hands. They will decide whether to shake hands with junior officers or employees. Respond with a firm handshake and eye contact.
Most Nicaraguan companies are vertically structured with a well-defined hierarchy. Important decisions are made by top managers, which are implemented by subordinates. While middle management is incentivized to give suggestions, the final decision comes from the top.
Nicaragua’s culture of negotiation is very similar to that of other Latin American countries. Characteristics include tardiness, informality, showing emotions when negotiating, hospitality, haggling and the desire always to be earning more.
Women and Minorities in the Workplace
Women in Nicaragua are gaining more top positions. There are still some industries that are female-dominated, such as maquilas (garment factory).
This is just a sample of what you'll find in the complete Nicaragua guide.