By Pedro Souza
April 23, 2017
As one of the largest economies in the world, there are plenty opportunities for doing business in Brazil. As Brazilians are highly social people, they enjoy doing business personally, which means you might have to deal with face-to-face meetings. There are, however, some cultural differences you should be aware of when conducting business in Brazil. With this in mind, we have compiled some tips for you:
1. If you are introduced to a potential business partner through a mutual acquaintance, he will generally feel more comfortable and be more willing to negotiate. This is a good thing to keep in mind.
2. In Brazilian business culture, personal relationships and business often mix with each other. Sometimes it might take you befriending someone and earning that person’s trust before you conduct any actual business.
3. Another thing to be aware of is that there is a thin line between friendliness and professionalism that should be respected. This will take good social instincts and some common sense.
4. Learn some Portuguese phrases before you attend a meeting. Even if you fail at communicating properly in Portuguese, your effort will be appreciated and will earn you some points.
5. Avoid confrontation during business meetings. If you have to criticize someone, do it in a non-confrontational way.
6. Brazilians will usually engage in small talk and socialize for a few minutes before business meetings. This might be frustrating to people that want to get straight to the point, but it is a good opportunity to gauge your potential business partners.
7. Brazilians dress well and formally on business meeting, so you should do too. Women usually wear feminine suits and dresses, while men wear dark suits. Lighter colored suits are acceptable in summer. Three-piece suits are usually worn by executive workers, while office workers prefer two-piece suits.
8. Don’t be frustrated if you are kept waiting when going to a meeting. In Brazil, there is a certain tolerance for arriving late at meetings and other occasions. That being said, you should avoid being late.
9. Be prepared for dealing with physical contact. Brazilians are touchy-feely people, and might pat you on the back or place a hand in your elbow or shoulder. If you draw away from contact, it might be interpreted as nervousness.
10. Despite the formal dress code, Brazilians are quite informal. Conversations take a casual tone, with jokes being common as well.
11. When greeting, men shake hands firmly. Women greet each other with a kiss in the cheek and greet men with a handshake. Usually, a woman extends her hand first when greeting a man. Another thing to remember when people are introducing themselves is that Brazilians are usually introduced by their first name.
12. When engaging in small talk, it is recommended to avoid talking about politics. Politics in Brazil is highly polarized, and Brazilians are very sensitive when it comes to hearing criticism of Brazil from foreigners.
13. In Brazil, meetings should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. It is also considered good form to confirm the meeting one or two days before it takes place.