YOU CAN’T E-MAIL A HUG

As U.S. general manager for Madrid-based Panda Software, Patrick Hinojosa, 36, knows the culture shock faced by many continent-hopping road warriors. The security software company has offices in 40 countries.

AW: What’s the main difference between the U.S. and Spanish business styles?
Hinojosa:
Americans do business very directly, often tersely. Over there, the social niceties are critical to getting anything done. The long lunches, socializing with the boss — all that really matters. You ease into conversations when everybody’s comfortable.

AW: Did you have adjustment problems?
Hinojosa:
Here in the U.S., we have all the sexual harassment stuff. In Spain, you’d better give the person a hug, kiss them on the cheek. That took me a while to get used to.

AW: How about electronic communications?
Hinojosa:
They do a lot in person that we would normally do over the phone. And you don’t have many e-mail relationships like you do here, doing business with people you’ve never met in person. Internet penetration in Europe is a fraction of what it is here.

AW: How does all the schmoozing affect productivity?
Hinojosa:
You might not get as much done in a day there as you do here. But as one of my Spanish co-workers put it, “In America, you live to work. We work to live.” It’s a philosophical difference.