Spanish Vocabulary in the Workplace
To be a global player, you need to familiarize yourself with español para los negocios (business Spanish).
Why? Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, and most Spanish-speaking countries are geographically located next to the USA. What does this mean? It is time to learn business Spanish in order to communicate -and do business with- our neighboring countries!
The Importance of Speaking Spanish and Building Rapport
Many cultures, including those from latinoamérica, rely on building relationships and trust before business dealings are discussed. Building rapport is key. This can be done through active listening, patience by spending time engaging in small-talk before ‘getting down to business’, as well as showing real interest in your conversations.
Building rapport is also done by knowing Spanish and greeting your business associates in their native language! Don’t forget to use the proper form – formal or informal – in your greetings! Hola Ximena! Es un placer conocerle.
In the USA, small-talk can be short and sweet: “Good Morning! Did you have a nice weekend? Nice weather today, eh? Okay – Here’s what I need from you….” and the business meeting ensues. In many other countries, this would nary be a start. Lengthy amounts of time can be spent ‘feeling out’ the other parties’ intentions, temperament, motivations, non-verbal cues, etc.
The Criticality of Face-to-Face Meetings
I experienced this while working with an Indian company that was not accustomed to doing business with Americans, and it was one of my first times doing business in India. I was a “new” member on the team and started getting down to business on day one.
In order to perform an analysis, I required information to be sent via email. However, no one would send it to me. I had participated in a couple of phone meetings with my new counterparts and engaged in ‘small-talk’ with the team; nonetheless, when it came time for the company to share information with me…it was silence and avoidance. There was always an excuse that it was “delayed,” or that they were “working on it”—but I wasn’t receiving the data I needed.
I ended up consulting with an Indian-American colleague and discovered that the company most likely didn’t “trust” me yet, and if I wanted to move forward with the project then I would have to meet them in person.
Off I went, traveling over 30 hours to have an in-person meeting with the company representatives. The meeting went well—we spent half the morning drinking tea and getting to know one another. My counterparts were evaluating me to deem me trustworthy. Evidently, I passed the test because from that meeting forward, I received any and all the information I requested without delay, hesitation, or excuses. Success!
In many cultures, it is crucial to spend time getting to know each other before the business meeting can officially start and before the business relationship can grow. Even though Southeast Asia and Latin America are two very different regions, they share this similarity (as do many other parts of the world!)
To help you facilitate your next meeting in Spanish, we have compiled a list of key business words and phrases below!
20 Key Business Words
Let’s start by learning the basics so you can speak with confidence.
|Boss||El jefe, La jefa|
|Colleague||El compañero, La compañera / El colega, La colega|
|Business Meeting||La reunión|
|Phone Call||Una llamada|
|Deadline||La fecha de entrega|
|Brainstorming||Lluvia de ideas|
Business Phrases Translated for You!
There are many common phrases used when talking about business projects, holding meetings, or striving to meet deadlines. Some of those phrases are colloquial, and you would only use them with your coworkers. Others are more formal and would be reserved for your boss or important clients.
|Spanish Phrase||Literal English||Actual Translation||Example|
|Nos ponemos en contacto||We’ll contact each other||Reach out||Nos ponemos en contacto con usted mañana para darle las actualizaciones.|
I will reach out to you tomorrow with an update.
|Estamos en contacto||We are in contact||We’ll keep you posted||Estamos en contacto con los avances del proyecto.|
We’ll keep you posted on the project’s advancement.
|Lo antes posible||As soon as possible||ASAP||Le envío el correo lo antes posible.|
I’ll send out the email ASAP.
|Estamos en lo mismo||We’re in the same thing||On the same page||¿Entonces estamos en lo mismo respecto al negocio?|
So we’re on the same page regarding the deal, then?
|Subir la barra||Raise the bar||Raise the bar||El último reporte de Miguel subió la barra para los futuros empleados.|
Mike’s last report raised the bar for future employees.
|Empezar de cero||Start from zero||Start From Scratch||En vista de la nueva información, tendremos que empezar de cero.|
In light of this new info, we’ll have to start from scratch.
|No inventemos el agua azucarada||Don’t reinvent sugared water||Don’t Reinvent the Wheel||No inventemos el agua azucarada, busquemos lo que se ha hecho antes.|
Let’s not reinvent the wheel, we can look up what’s been done before.
|La Junta Directiva||Board of Directors||The Board||La junta directiva tiene gente joven en ella, para estar a la vanguardia.|
The Board has some young people in it, to keep things fresh.
|Prepararse bien||Prepare well||Be prepared||La Junta Directiva viene la semana entrante para recibir una actualización, preparemonos bien.|
The board is coming next week for an update, let’s be prepared.
|Profundizar||To deepen||Deep Dive||Vamos a profundizar en el tema para terminar más rápido.|
We’ll do a deep dive on the issue so we can get things done quicker.
|Dar seguimiento||Follow up||Follow up||Demos seguimiento al evento así podemos mejorarlo el año entrante.|
Let’s do a follow up on the event so we can improve next year.
|Entregables||Deliverables||Deliverables||Aquí hay una lista de entregables para que revisemos la otra semana.|
Here’s a list of deliverables that we’ll review next week.
|Calendarizar una reunión||Schedule a meeting||Schedule a Meeting||Vamos a calendarizar una reunión con mercadeo para comenzar a trabajar en el poster.|
Let’s schedule a meeting with Marketing so we can start working on the poster.
|Quedarse dentro del presupuesto||Stay within the Budget||Stay within Budget||Recuerde que los costos de construcción deben quedarse dentro del presupuesto si queremos generar rentabilidad.|
Remember that the construction costs must stay within budget if we want to turn a profit.
|Dar luz verde||Give the Green Light||Give the Green Light||El Director Ejecutivo le dio luz verde al proyecto. ¡Podemos empezar!|
The CEO gave the project a green light. We’re good to go!
|Generar rentabilidad||Generate cost effectiveness||Turn a Profit||Cuando abramos la tienda, vamos a empezar a generar rentabilidad.|
Once we open the store, we’ll start to turn a profit.
Below are some key phrases that will apply to coworkers, bosses, and clients alike. Practice these to show your skills as a businessperson to your fellow Spanish speakers!
Practice Spanish Every Day
Knowing these top business keywords and phrases is a great start on becoming business-savvy in the Spanish workplace! To avoid language mishaps and dale con todo (put your best foot forward), it is important to practice Spanish every day!
Now You’re Ready!
The Spanish Academy offers personalized classes in real-time with real people that can adapt to your schedule. Be confident when holding your next business meeting! Sign up for a free class and practice with native Spanish-speakers today!
Want to learn more Spanish vocabulary? Check these out!
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I began studying Spanish at age 11 and have been interested in language and culture ever since! While at university, I studied abroad in Spain and Costa Rica and got a B.A. in Environmental Economics with a minor in Spanish. After spending over a decade in corporate America, I now enjoy the simpler things in life. ¡Pura Vida!
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