Business etiquette in Dominican Republic

Hello everybody,

As you know, professional habits may differ from one country to another. In order to help newly arrived expats better understand their new professional environment in Dominican Republic, we warmly encourage you to share information and insights about the do’s and don’ts in the workplace.

For instance, are there office manners? How do you greet your co-workers? Do you greet your management differently? Is there a dress code? Particular rules to observe? Maybe a professional body language?

On another level, what is key for a successful professional meeting? Are there any steps to follow? How do you a start a negotiation?

In other words, what are the most important things to know for a successful professional integration in Dominican Republic?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience!


Great topic Julien.  And very involved here.  First is that it depends where you are working,  how big is the company, who owns it, where are they from,  what is the industry etc.  It is not cut and dried.

How you behave will very much depend on a number of factors -  your position.   This culture is very class conscious.  You are always expected to be friendly and approachable but not too much.   It is similar to walking into a restaurant when you arrive at work - you say hello to everyone, even if you do not know them!   And it does not matter if you just saw them in the parking lot,  you still greet them again on arrival!

Dress code- again depends on what you are doing and your position.  Things here are somewhat different then many other countries,  just watch the news programming to see what I mean. I often wonder if the announcers are there to do a job or look for a boyfriend!   The standards are very different and you will need to see what is appropriate where you are. My personal standard is always  classic, simple  no matter where I am working.  IF it is a very casual environment,  good quality jeans and a classic tshirt.  More office oriented - dress pants and a simple top and jacket or sweater. 

Body language here is all over the place.  Good luck with that one!  Seriously - keep your head down, watch and learn is my motto. 

Culture here is very very social.  It can be tough to adapt to and really tough to manage if you are at that level. 

Time -  well there is little respect for time or the value of time. Fundamentally most are underpaid so they see no value in their time.  It is a tough one to deal with.  IF you are in management it is a huge deal to handle lateness,  not showing up etc etc. Do not expect your appointments to show up on time and do not expect to be received on time. Always be prepared with something to do or read. Again my personal take: my time has value,  I will give you 10 minutes then I am saying something. 10  more minutes and I leave.  If you have not arrived withing your 20 minutes and not called or messaged me, I am on to the next thing.   I believe this is a huge issue in this country! But that is me.

Negotiation: Dominicans do business with people they know,  people referred to them and often people they like.  Do not expect to be taken seriously the first  while you are here. Unless you are brought in by an established company, it will take you a couple years to be accepted.  That is because many  expats come and go.  Dominicans do not believe you are staying until you have been here long enough to convince them! 

It is very much about who you know.  You need to build a network of people. BUT be very careful who that is, you are judged by who you associate with!  It will take time to know who is who.......

Another addition to this topic -  good use of "propinas" or tips,  under the table money,  greasing palms etc etc.

Often things get done here, but damn it can be so slow.  Using propinas to pave the way,  speed up the process, overlook a "missing" document etc can be really useful. 

But you must know how and when  to do so. And that comes with experience here.... Some areas will want and expect propinas, others will  not. Okay the latter is fewer and farther between....LOL

On the subject of propinas -  when out for a business dinner, lunch or just coffee - as an expat meeting with  Dominicans - do NOT over tip. It is considered very bad form and will indicate you do not understand the culture.  On most bills there is already a 10% tip, adding  another 10% to that is good form.

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