Brazilians conduct business mainly through personal connections. Before putting the resources into a trip, hire a Brazilian contact in your industry that can help you make the right connections.
Business connections (known in Portuguese as a “despachante”) may be located through the U.S. Department of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil, or an international organization to which you may already belong.
It’s important to Brazilians that any new business relationship will be for the long-term.
Make sure to convey to your Brazilian counterparts that you value people and relationships over the business.
There are many innovative and productive aspects of Brazilian industry and business, so be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
Brazil is a very large, diverse country with lots to see and Brazilians are very proud of it. Learn something in advance about the country and specifically the area you will be visiting.
Class (in economic terms) and status are a major influence in this society and often determines the type of job a person will have. However, the assumption that the powerful are entitled to special privileges is starting to be questioned.
Keep in mind that Brazilians tend to be reticent about discussing their private lives and those of others.
Avoid asking too many personal questions, particularly those regarding family, income and status in the workplace.
“Flexible punctuality” is characteristic of Brazilian business culture. You will have to accept that waiting for your Brazilian counterparts will be part of doing business here.
Portuguese is the dominant language in Brazil. Be aware that Brazilians do not perceive themselves as Hispanics and may take offense if addressed in Spanish.
Brazilians usually greet each other with long handshakes and noticeable eye contact. Close friends will often embrace.
Women will often greet each other by touching cheek to cheek and kissing the air. Women business travelers usually don’t have any problems doing business in Brazil.
Brazilians tend to stand closer together when talking than do some other cultures.
It’s important to maintain steady eye contact because its considered rude to break eye contact in the middle of a conversation.
Brazilians use many gestures, however the “OK” sign (using your first finger and thumb to form a circle) is considered vulgar so avoid using it.
Use your whole hand when you feel the need to point at something since using the forefinger may be considered rude.
As in many Central and South American countries, Brazilians also consider themselves ‘Americans’. Consequently, don’t use the phrase “in America” or “American” to the point of exclusion when referring to the United States.
Brazilians tend to be very fast talkers so expect conversations to be fast-paced and often animated and demonstrative.
Be aware that it will probably take several trips to bring any business negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion.
Changing your business negotiation team in the middle of the cycle can also jeopardize the entire negotiation process and is a major breach of Brazilian business protocol.
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips
The part of Brazil you are currently visiting, as well as your travels to other parts of Brazil.
Brazil is famous for its special cuts of grilled meats and its wonderful wines, so discussing food is a topic all will enjoy!
Brazilians are enthusiastic “futebol” (soccer) fans and this subject usually stimulates a lively conversation.
They also enjoy discussing other popular sports include basketball, fishing, horse racing, tennis and volleyball. Brazilians love to dance! Dance and other aspects of the country’s arts and culture are always good topics to discuss.
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos
Avoid all ethnic and class differences or any jokes about them.
Don’t discuss Brazil’s economic challenges, whether past or present, unless they bring up the topic first.
Never compare Argentina with Brazil or discuss Argentina’s attributes because it is Brazil’s largest business rival
Brazilians are very proud and criticism of any aspect of Brazil will find disfavor.
Brazilians are rather private people, so any discussion of family or topic of a personal nature should be avoided unless your Brazilian counterpart brings it up.
Join us in the future for Do’s and Taboos for CANADA!
Cultural Tips for Brazil- including some valuable business travel tips for Brazil!
To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the cultural communication styles for Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book
Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success
The CROSS of Cross-Cultural
Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z
Cultural Tips for Brazil – including some valuable business travel tips for Brazil
This article on cultural differences in Brazil and cultural travel tips for Brazil is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for Brazil, tips for communicating in Brazil, and business strategies for Brazil to help with understanding the culture in Brazil. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture,’ cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural Do’s and Taboos for Brazil and tips for intercultural communication!
It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a significant impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.
Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!
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