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 and at call centers. English is, however, gaining more use among young people because new job opportunities, particularly in call centers and the tourism industry, require English-language skills.
Acting Like a Local
- Sunday is family day. Families gather to enjoy activities together, such meals or outings to the beach, a volcano or a traditional city — Granada for example.
- While Nicaraguans do give addresses by a street name and house number system, they are more often indicated by a reference point and cardinal directions.
- Bartering is very common in Nicaragua.
- One should always keep loose change in one’s 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 a relaxed attitude toward punctuality, informality, showing emotions when negotiating, hospitality, and haggling. It is important to establish a relationship in order to proceed with negotiations in Nicaragua. Negotiations are informal; for example, meetings are held during lunch (‘working lunches’) or dinner. The guest may be invited to try Nicaraguan rum or beer; if the guest refuses the drink, this may be considered a sign of disinterest. On the other hand, accepting and sharing the drink can create bonds of friendship. Negotiations in Nicaragua are emotional, and bonds of friendship create confidence between both parties.
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).
In 1990, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was the first woman elected as a president of the republic.
This is just a sample of what you'll find in the complete Nicaragua guide.