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Home > New Posting > Cultural Etiquette

The People

Venezuelans respect leadership and are a tolerant and loving people. Extended family and friends are very important, and one should avoid doing anything that might shame them. The upper class dominates the economic structures of commerce and industry, but the middle class dominates politics. People are emotionally attached to the church (96% Roman Catholic), which gives them a sense of stability, but religion is not a strong force in daily life. Venezuelans are very proud of the fact that religious freedom is guaranteed by their constitution.

Meeting and Greeting

  • Greetings are warm and friendly. People kiss business acquaintances on the cheek once and personal friends twice.
  • Handshakes are common among strangers.

Body Language

  • Venezuelans stand very close when speaking. Do not back away.
  • Seating posture is important. Try to keep both feet on the floor, and avoid slouching. Don't put your feet on furniture.
  • Casual touching is common among males.
  • The “ch-ch” sound is used to get someone's attention or to get a bus to stop.
  • The North American “O.K.” sign is extremely rude.
  • Pointing with your index finger can be considered rude. Motioning with your entire hand is more polite.
  • Always maintain eye contact when talking.

Corporate Culture

  • Be punctual for business meetings, but be prepared to wait for your Venezuelan counterparts. The pace of business is relaxed, easy-going and informal. Be patient.
  • Focus on long-term relationships. Get to know your business colleagues personally before attempting to do business.
  • Establish a local contact to make introductions at the appropriate levels for business and social meetings.
  • Clearly communicate your position and title in your company to make your status known.
  • Small talk before a meeting is minimal. Unlike other South Americans, Venezuelans will get right to the point.
  • Venezuelans like to be in control. Don't push the process or try to dominate business meetings.
  • Negotiations may proceed slowly with many interruptions. Maintain a sense of humor.
  • Print all of your materials in Spanish.

Dining and Entertainment

  • For social events, always arrive at least half an hour to an hour later than the invitation reads.
  • VIPs arrive very late for social occasions in order to “make an entrance.”
  • Meals are for socializing. Discuss business only if your host initiates it.
  • You will normally be served a great deal of food and drink; Venezuelans enjoy both, but do not abuse either.


  • Appearances count. It is important to be neat, clean and properly groomed. Your watch and jewelry will be noticed.
  • For business, men should wear conservative, dark suits.
  • Women should wear feminine business suits, dresses, skirts and blouses.


  • Always bring a gift when visiting someone's home. A gift for the children will be appreciated. A little dress or teddy bear would be appropriate.
  • White, gold and silver are popular colors for any gift.
  • Send flowers before a social occasion. The orchid is the national flower.
  • Many Venezuelans like scotch. Give high-quality scotch (Johnny Walker Black Label, Chivas Regal), or wine.
  • Do not give gifts in business until a personal relationship has been established.

Helpful Hints

  • Learn about Venezuelan history, and ask questions. Venezuelans are proud of their country and will appreciate your interest. However, don't talk about local unrest and inflation, or give your opinion on local politics.
  • People call each other names like Negro (“black”), Gordo (“fatso”), Chino (“Chinaman”), etc. These nicknames are meant to show friendship, fondness and fun and are not meant to be demeaning.
  • Privacy is not valued in the same way it is in North America.

Especially for Women

  • Venezuelan women are beautiful and work hard at looking great. Even professional women “dress to impress.”
  • North American businesswomen can operate effectively in Venezuela. Be polite and friendly, but be firm.
  • Blondes (catira) are pursued with interest.
Adapted from material compiled by Window on the World, a cross-cultural training and consulting firm. Originally based on material contained in the "Put Your Best Foot Forward" series of books by Mary Murray Bosrock.
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