In my experience, Brazil is a very exciting country to do business in. It’s a country on the move and an important member of the BRIC emerging economies. It has a promising future and that is a green light for entrepreneurs like me. It also has an amazing culture, which makes doing business there equal parts pleasure and work. However, if you’re planning on putting Brazil on your business map, I’d suggest you learn about its business culture and etiquette before you set foot in the country, which is why I’m sharing some lessons I learnt from my own Brazil experiences.
The art of small talk
First of all, Brazilians are a very friendly people and they like to build friendships alongside any business relationship. Politeness is very important to them; rudeness will get you the cold shoulder. They like to negotiate with people rather than a company, therefore it is vital that you accept that social small talk will play a part in any discussions. Favourite topics for small talk are family, football and music. Learn something about samba, Brazil’s important musicians, and of course its legendary footballers before you arrive. Topics to steer clear of are poverty, politics and Argentina. The latter is considered a trading rival.
It can be hard for entrepreneurs from cultures where getting down to business straight away is the accepted etiquette to get the hang of making small talk, but it will pay huge dividends if you do. Always make good eye contact with the person you are talking to and accept that there may be a lot of touching of your arms and backs during discussions; Brazilians like to be physically close to the person they are talking to. Also, be aware of non-verbal signals; slapping the back of the hand against the palm means they are not interested.
Indeed, please hide any feelings of impatience at the proceedings as Brazilians will see this as reflecting poorly on you. They admire people who show self-control, so you will score points if you appear to be relaxed with how things are going. You will also need to exercise your patience when waiting for decisions to be made; Brazilian business is very hierarchical and the highest ranking person in a company makes the final decisions. It can take a while for that to filter down to you.
Formal greetings may differ from your country. It is customary to shake hands with everyone on entering and leaving a business meeting. Also, shake hands with the men and kiss women on both cheeks. If possible, learn some basic Brazilian phrases in advance.
Entertaining is an important part of business culture and Brazilians are quite relaxed about it, but very fashion conscious, so dress smart and don’t wear anything considered outrageous. If you are hosting a dinner, don’t be surprised if your guests are 15 – 30 minutes late; punctuality is not a strong point, However, you should be punctual, even if you have to wait.
Enjoy the culture
And, when you are in Brazil, don’t miss the opportunity to sample its vibrant culture: go to a football match; visit Copacabana beach; enjoy the view from Sugarloaf Mountain if you’re in Rio, and if you have the opportunity to experience the greatest carnival in the world, don’t miss it.
Doing business in Brazil is hugely pleasurable if you adapt to their customs and it is a vast country with huge potential, so understanding its new business culture is very much worth your while.
I hope you enjoyed this and found it useful. Please subscribe to my blog if you’d like to receive an alert when I post new content.