Emerging markets in Latin America, a trade partnership with Mexico, and a growing Spanish-speaking population makes Spanish one of the most lucrative business languages to learn.
As we mentioned in the first entry of this conference call series, learning to do business in another language can help you create long-term connections and open up professional opportunities. This is especially true in Latin America, where personal relationships with the people of other companies are often just as important as the deals they are making. But where to start? First, which type of Spanish will you be speaking? If you’re talking with someone from Spain, check out our Castilian Spanish course to pick up a few helpful phrases. For business contacts in Latin America, these seven simple business Spanish phrases will help you facilitate a great conference call.
1. “Buenos días. (BWEHnohs DEEahs.)” — Good morning.
Remember to stay cognizant of the local time zones! If it’s early in the day, use buenos dias, if it’s the afternoon, say buenas tardes [good afternoon], and if it’s in the evening, impress with buenas noches [good evening]. Although these greetings might sound familiar, they’re appropriate for business settings, too.
2. “Déjenme presentarme. (DEHhenme prehsehnTAHRmeh.)” — Let me introduce myself.
Titles are very important in Latin American culture. So, whether you’re giving a presentation to an international branch or meeting with potential clients, prepare to introduce yourself with both your name and official title.
When introducing or greeting someone else, you should always use his or her title followed by the last name, which will quite often be a hyphenated last name with the paternal name followed by the maternal name. Be sure to include both last names when you address someone, for example, Señor Zamora-Cortes. For more on how to smoothly navigate professional settings in Latin America, check out our Business (Spanish, Latin American) course.
3. “Hablo un poco de español. (AHbloh oon POHkoh deh ehspahNYOHL.)” — I speak a little bit of Spanish.
Let your potential business partners and clients know what to expect as far as your Spanish expertise goes with this super handy phrase. If you’re eager to bypass the need for this little warning altogether, equip yourself for any situation through our Spanish (Latin American) course.
4. “¿Empezamos? (¿ehmpehSAHmohs?)”— Shall we start?
It can be considered rude to rush through a meeting in many Latin American cultures, so learn how to get the ball rolling in a friendly manner.
5. “No puedo conectarme. (noh PWEHdthoh kohnehkTAHRmeh.)” — I can't connect.
“Está teniendo problemas conectándose a la reunión. (ehsTAH tehNYEHNdoh prohBLEHmahs kohnehkTAHNdohseh ah lah rrehwNYOHN.)” — S/he is having problems getting connected to the meeting.
No matter how smart our phones and computers get, there is always a chance for a technical problem (or two). While video conference calls can make even the longest of distances seem short, prepare to let clients or colleagues know if you or a coworker can’t get connected with these useful sentences.
6. “Déjame pensarlo, por favor. ( DEHjahmeh pehnSAHRloh, pohr phahBOHR.)” — Please, let me think about it.
If you’re not ready to make a decision, need to discuss with your team, or simply don’t know the answer to a question, this tactful response will help you buy some time. It will be especially appreciated in Mexico, where people tend to avoid the direct ‘no’ as a way to be polite.
7. "No entendí eso. ¿Puede repetirlo? (noh ehntehnDEE EHsoh PWEHdtheh rrehpehTEERloh?)" — I didn't understand that. Can you repeat it?
Just like technical problems, language misunderstandings are bound to pop up when communicating with a different country. If you find yourself feeling unsure, use this phrase to let your colleagues know that you didn’t understand something, and need clarification.
Misunderstandings can also arise from the use of idioms and colloquial language. You can prepare ahead of time by brushing up on some Spanish idioms from Latin America. So when your Colombian partner says, ‘Ya casi terminamos el proyecto. ¡Falta hacer el reporte y sale pa’ pintura!’ [We almost finished the project. All that’s left is to do the report, and it’s ready!] — you’ll know that there is actually no painting [pintura] involved.
Looking to equip yourself with one of the top business languages for an increasingly globalized economy? Start speaking Latin American Spanish through real-life scenarios, native-speaker audio, and relevant cultural tips. New to Mango? Your first three lessons are on us.
What other phrases have you noticed in your international business experiences that would be helpful to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!