When doing business in Brazil, remember to aim at building a friendly relationship with your Brazilian counterpart. If you have a less polite person on your team, it is best to leave them at home. Brazilians have a famous saying “to our friends, everything; to others, the law”, so be careful what side you take!
- Brazil’s official name is Federative Republic of Brazil.
- Official language – Portuguese.
- Capital – Brasilia.
- Brazil’s population is around 190 million.
– Brazilians negotiate with people not with companies, therefore, a building a positive relationship (via small talk) is necessary while discussing business matters.
– It is believed the further north you go the more relaxed the attitude is in regards to business.
– Try not to show feelings of frustration or impatience as this will reflect poorly on you as an individual. Brazilians pride themselves on their ability to be in control, so acting in a similar fashion will improve your relationship and interactions with your Brazilian counterparts.
– Brazilian business is hierarchical. The final decisions are usually made by the highest ranking person; therefore, it takes some time to make a deal.
– In most Brazilian cities, working hours are 8:30 am to 5.00pm with an hour or two in the middle for lunch. Businesses are usually open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday-Friday and 9:00-1:00 pm on Saturday. Larger businesses and most in Sao Paulo may be open longer hours.
- Greetings involving women will involve kissing of both cheeks.
- Handshakes are usually reserved for men. It is customary to shake hands with everyone present both upon arrival and upon exiting the room.
- Hugging and back slapping are also quite common.
The Art of Conversation
When you meet someone for the first time, it is polite to say “muito prazer” (tr. “my pleasure”). Expressions such as “como vai” and “tudo bem” are common forms of saying “hello” once you know someone and can show you are making an effort to know them.
In Brazil, constant interruption whilst someone is talking is often considered acceptable.
Good conversation topics are football, family and music. It is also great to praise Brazil’s beautiful beaches and appreciate the country’s rapid growth.
Bad conversation topics are:
- do not mention Argentina – it is considered a rival.
Also, it is not common to ask personal questions, such as age, salary, marital or job status.
The use of titles and first names vary across Brazilian society. Address your Brazilian counterpart with their title and surname at the first meeting or when writing to them.
Business meetings and meals
– Although Brazilian culture tends to be relatively informal, Brazilians are quite fashion conscious. It is important therefore to dress smartly and conservatively.
– Three-piece suits indicate an executive-level status.
– Brazilians are known to arrive 15-30 minutes late to social meetings, so punctuality is more relaxed. Try to come on time yourself.
– Exchange business cards during introductions. As an added gesture of your good taste, include a Portuguese translation of your business card on its flipside.- It is custom to book a business meeting at least two weeks in advance. Schedule extra time in between meetings to allow for any additional time needed since they are often delayed or cancelled without warning.
– Negotiations are known to occur over meals, often lunch.
– When attending a Brazilian’s home, it is customary to bring the host flowers or a small gift.
– It is often appropriate in Brazil to send flowers to the host the day after they have entertained you in their home.
– Avoid giving purple or black gifts as this is for funerals or mourning.
- Good eye contact is expected.
- Back slapping is very common amongst men in Brazil.
- During a conversation, a lot of touching of the arms and back whilst talking is common. They speak in very close proximity, with lots of physical contact.
- Clapping the back of a hand against the palm of the other hand signifies that they don’t care or are not interested.
- The O.K. sign in Brazil is considered rude.
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