Jamaica: Appointment Alert!


Appointment Alert

It is generally easy to schedule meetings in advance with Jamaicans, but confirm the meeting a few days in advance. Meetings are generally held in the morning. If you are asked to meet after 5pm, it normally indicates that the local businessperson wants a more relaxed setting; follow his/her cue during this meeting.

Always arrive to meetings and appointments on time. Jamaicans expect punctuality from foreigners, but they might arrive a little late. Tardiness on their side is not considered rude behavior. A Jamaican meeting may be formal, but they typically have a friendly tone and usually start out with small talk. Bargaining is very customary in Jamaica, so do not put your best offer on the table at the start of negotiations.

Politeness and courtesy are highly valued as aspects of being “raised good.” They are expressed through greetings, especially from the young to their elders. A child never talks back to parents or elders. Men are expected to open doors for women and help with or perform heavy tasks.

The Jamaican businessperson will be well rounded in sports and loves to speak to the countries rich musical heritage.

Meetings will have a friendly tone even though they can be somewhat formal. Expect some small talk before business is discussed. Avoid talking about politics and homosexuality. Regulate your tone for business discussions; and feel free to laugh and share in the general bonhomie when that happens.

Let your Jamaican colleagues decide when it is time to speak about business. Your presentations should be complete and not conceal potential problems.

The most common greeting is the handshake with direct eye contact, and a warm smile. Use the appropriate salutation for the time of day: “good morning”, “good afternoon”, or “good evening”. Once a friendship has been established, women may hug and kiss on each cheek, starting with the right. Men often pat each other’s shoulder or arm during the greeting process or while conversing. Address people by their honorific title (Mr., Mrs., or Miss) and their surname until a personal relationship has developed. Medical doctors are addressed as “Dr.” Always wait until invited before using someone’s first name. As your friendship deepens, you may be asked to call the person by their nickname.

There is no specific ritual surrounding the sharing of business cards; just treat it with respect.