One of the fastest ways for an American to sour negotiations with other cultures is to think that everybody does business the same as Americans. Thank goodness that this is so very far from the truth. For Americans to succeed in the foreign business world, we must learn to be more observant of the feelings and cultures of others. In no place is this more evident than in our own back door--Mexico and the Latin/South American countries.
Just because they are "local", we should be able to treat them the same as we do our own contacts. This is so very far from the truth.
The Spanish culture of Mexico and the Latin/South American countries are similar in so may ways to their Spanish ancestors, but are still quite set in their own Cultural manners. Even in the smallest of towns, there is a tight social ladder that must be adhered to if negotiations are to be successful.
Each person has their own place in the society, and they must be counted as such.
A key are that the American Culture must re-learn is that of being polite and proper. The Spanish-American culture is very socially oriented, and the "air" that is left is very important. Common courtesy and protocol are sensitive issues. A quick way to sour most relationships is to demean the dominant male figure.
More than anyone else I have observed, American Businessmen and Women like to dress-up and show how "proper" they are. This immediately causes a problem in that conservative dress is the norm. On arrival for meetings, or other activities, observe what the local attire is.
It is a bad omen to dress more formally than those you are meeting are.
Observe the bankers, lawyers, and the professionals/bureaucrats.