Business in Brazil
Some Business Etiquette Essentials
Source: Executive Planet
  • Before putting the resources into a trip, hire a Brazilian contact in your industry that can help you make the right connections.
  • Make appointments of any kind at least two weeks in advance. Showing up at an office without an appointment is unacceptable in Brazilian business culture.
  • Avoid scheduling any appointments around 'Carnaval', which precedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, or any major local holiday.
  • Poor punctuality is characteristic of Brazilian business culture. You will have to accept that waiting around for your Brazilian counterparts will be part of doing business here. Also, traffic in the main cities is chaotic and most of the time is responsible for the delays.
  • Always arrive on time for a business meal or meeting at a restaurant. Usually, Brazilian business protocol demands punctuality on these occasions.
  • To feel comfortable in Brazil's sweltering, tropical climate, wear clothing made of light materials and colors that will help keep you cool. Light cottons and similar natural fibers are usually reliable choices. Keep in mind that the seasons in Brazil are opposite to those in North America; June/July and August is winter and December/January/February is summer.
  • Wardrobe options for women include conservative dresses, suits, pantsuits, skirts, and blouses. While you should dress conservatively, strive for an elegant, rather than 'frumpish', appearance.
  • Maintain steady eye contact at all times; it is considered impolite to break eye contact.
  • People stand closely in front of each other, even when talking. Brazilians are a gregarious people and as such they like proximity, but they have a knowledge of the customs of other countries.
  • Brazilians tend to be very fast talkers; expect any conversation to be fast-paced. It just seems faster; it is the same if you are talking to a foreigner.
  • It is normal for a conversation to be highly animated, with frequent interruptions, exclamations of 'no!', and a tremendous amount of physical contact. This is very true, as they really do listen and not pretend to listen.
  • Don't be alarmed if some of the interjections sound confrontational; this is simply a good-natured way of expressing interest in what is being discussed.
  • Attempting to direct or monopolize a conversation is frowned upon.
  • The language of this country is Portuguese. Make an effort to learn different words and phrases--don't worry about making mistakes. Brazilians will appreciate your efforts even if your vocabulary is limited.
  • Although Brazilians are very reticent about their own personal lives, they may nevertheless ask intrusive questions about your income, religion, and marital status. If you don't want to reveal this information, remain polite but give a vague, indirect, answer.
  • Brazilians also consider themselves Americans. Consequently, don't use the phrase 'in America' when referring to the United States.
  • Portuguese is the dominant language in Brazil. Be aware that Brazilians do not perceive themselves as Hispanics, and will only take offense if addressed in Spanish. But if you do speak Spanish you may ask to speak it, and they will accept it better.
  • Empirical and other factual evidence will be considered, but usually only if this kind of information suits the purposes of the negotiator on the Brazilian side. Subjective feelings almost always prevail in problem-solving and decision-making. So be prepared to deal with this.
  • If your Brazilian counterparts have reservations about you, this attitude will not be overcome by presenting them with impressive charts, graphs, or other empirical data. Instead, you will have to effectively use your personality, cultural awareness, and other interpersonal skills to win your Brazilian counterparts over to your side.
  • Good visuals are considered an important part of any presentation.
  • During negotiations, avoid confrontations and mask frustrations of any kind.
  • Placing an emphasis on increased power and status, rather than money, is sometimes an effective negotiating strategy.
  • Be prepared to discuss all aspects of the contract at once rather than methodically, "point-by-point".