WORKING ABROAD / FEB. 26, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Master Brazilian Business Etiquette

To many people, Brazil may not stick out as the most important place to conduct business, however, it is fast becoming an economic powerhouse. Just like any country it has a unique culture and as such a unique business etiquette. Due to the fact that the World Cup is going to take place there, it seems only fitting that there be a guide, on how to navigate your way around Brazilian business etiquette.

Business Cards

In Brazil, there is no need to stand on ceremony with business cards. They do not have to be received with a certain hand. The only rule you may want to follow with business cards, is writing them in both Portuguese and English. Also presenting it to them with the Portuguese side facing up would be a good idea. Neither of these measures are absolutely necessary, but merely more polite. After all, if you are trying to close a business deal; it is always best to be on as good terms as possible with your potential partners.

Dress Code

The dress code in Brazil is very European. It is quite conservative for executives and business meetings in the larger cities, such as Rio de Janeiro. With most men wearing three piece suits and women dressing quite conservatively as well. In the more tropical areas though, a more smart casual dress code would be acceptable, due to the severe heat. The important thing is to dress well as the Brazilians like people who have a good sense of fashion.

Communication

Even though the dress code can be quite conservative, business meetings tend to be quite informal affairs. Small talk is the norm, before, during and after a meeting. It is even quite acceptable to interrupt people while they are talking. Although, it would be unwise to interrupt very senior employees. It is also important to realise that personal contact is expected in Brazil. Kissing on both cheeks, patting on the pack, long strong handshakes and lots of body language are the norm and you should not be flustered by it. You may end up offending your Brazilian hosts. Good and continued eye contact can be quite important at this point as well, so don’t be offended if they stare into your eyes.

Punctuality

Brazilian attitude to punctuality is very lax. It is very common for Brazilians to be fashionably late for business meetings and you should not be annoyed by this. Brazilians place a much higher importance on maintaining personal relationships, than keeping strict schedules and business meetings.

Socialising

Socialising can be extremely important, because Brazilians only tend to do business with people that they know. Going for lunch is a good idea and it is acceptable to drink alcohol during a business lunch. Conversation though, should be kept to non-controversial topics such as sport, family, children and Brazil’s growth etc. Discussing topics such as poverty and the rainforest can annoy people. Although Brazilians are not easily offended, it is best to avoid offending people where possible.

Overall, Brazil is a relatively easy country to do business in. The people are easy going and business culture is quite relaxed. The important thing really, is not to be too formal or conservative. If you are, then you may run into problems. Taking things easy is the best way to handle Brazilian business etiquette.

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