In the winter, millions of workers consider greener pastures on foreign land as they are left to wither away in their offices looking at a window. Outside of this window is nothing but gray skies, snow, wind and the bitter cold. Workers yearn to be in a warm climate where they can bask in the sunshine, refrain from sporting eight layers of clothing as the temperature is more than comfortable and be employed in a country that does offer potential and business growth.
Well, there is such a place: the Bahamas.
Located off the coast of the state of Florida and the island nation of Cuba, the Bahamas is considered to be the tropical paradise that so many desire to be between the months of November and March. It’s also one of the economic engines of the region.
The Bahamas has been known to be one of the wealthiest Caribbean countries. With an economy driven by tourism and offshore banking, the Bahamas enjoys a modest $11 billion gross domestic product. However, the Bahamas does maintain a high jobless rate of more than 16 percent, an astronomical budget deficit and is nearly $20 billion in debt.
Nevertheless, the Bahamians workforce enjoys the advantages that some other laborers do not: a wonderful climate, predominantly.
Here are five business etiquettes to know in the Bahamas:
The people of the Bahamas speak two primary languages: English, which is the official language of the Bahamas, and Creole, which is spoken by among Haitian immigrants.
When Bahamians converse with one another, they try to be as direct and honest as possible. However, they are quite able to alter their language in order to make it seem affable and gracious. In addition, Bahamians attempt to incorporate humor regularly into their communications. Therefore, expect a lot of laughter and smiles when visiting Nassau.
Direct eye contact is a common communication style because avoiding eye contact can lead to suspicions about your character and motives. This means that direct eye contact is consistent throughout discussions.
Remember to stand at an arm’s length from one another, but touching between men and men, women and women and men and women is sometimes ubiquitous depending on how well they know each other and the social setting.
Despite the beach weather, Bahamians wear formal attire at the office. This means you should expect men to sport conservative shirts and ties and suits, while women will wear dresses, blouses, jackets and heeled shoes. Avoiding jeans, sandals and shorts would be the best step forward.
Upon meeting someone for the first time, a handshake, direct eye contact and a smile are the general customs. Although Bahamians are described as pleasant and outgoing, referring to someone by their first name instantaneously should be circumvented. For men, it’s best to wait for the lady to initiate the handshake.
Professional Titles & Business Cards
When you first meet someone, it’s smart to address the other person as Mr. and Mrs. followed by their last name. If a title does not exist then refer to their honorific title and surname. Always wait until the person permits you to address them by their first name.
Everyone is expected to treat a business card with the utmost respect. It is believed the way you handle a business card is the way you’ll treat the person. Also, avoid writing on a business card because it’s viewed as a sign of disrespect.
Rigid schedules do not take precedence over people and relationships. In fact, socializing and personal relationships are far more important to Bahamians than strict agendas, set schedules and punctuality.
The Bahamas is a beautiful place to visit, live and do business in. Although it does experience some economic setbacks, it is slowly becoming a place to invest in, especially for those who wish to leave behind the harsh winter weather. A firm handshake, pleasantness, eye contact and a somewhat laid back demeanor can take you notably far.
Have you previously conducted business in the Bahamas? Let us know in the comment section.