Brazilian Business Etiquette
When doing business in Brazil, there is a number of etiquette choices that you will need to make in order to avoid any potential issues. Like all countries, Brazil has its own traditions and observations that are certainly unique and need to be properly observed in order to avoid any potential gaffe or misunderstanding.
What follows are a few business etiquette practices that you will need to observe in order to avoid any potential points of conflict. Fortunately, Brazilian business etiquette is very straightforward and easy to understand once you are more familiar with the culture. In fact, Brazil is in many ways like southern Europe in terms of attitudes and practices, which helps in understanding their viewpoint and cultural practices.
Normally, you should avoid using first names until permission is given, however using titles is very important. Expect a firm handshake from the men and good eye contact as well. Both men and women will greet women with a short kiss on each cheek as well. When you conclude your business, expect to greet, shake hands and kiss cheeks again, so if there is a large group of people present, it may take some time to get out of the room.
While a complete itinerary is not necessary when arranging the meeting, you should still provide the subject and important details in advance so that your Brazilian counterparts will be prepared.
A dress code that is conservative European is generally expected for important meetings in larger cities. However, in the more tropical areas found in northern Brazil, smart casual attire is more the norm especially if your meeting is outdoors, but you should always ask in these cases just to be sure.
Meetings can be rather long and somewhat talkative affairs, but this is part of the cultural process in Brazil to become familiar with you and what you are offering. Still one way to impress your Brazilian counterparts is by having the meeting over lunch or dinner. Food is a very important part of the culture and often having a meeting over a meal can get more accomplished while solving the problem of meetings that go on too long.
Unlike many European and American standards, punctuality is somewhat less stringent in Brazil, so your counterparts being a little late should not be seen as a sign of laziness or disinterest. In fact, larger cities are rather difficult to get around in efficiently so you should expect some delay. However, if you are late, expect to hear a few jokes especially given the Brazilian experience with the highly punctual British-types.
Avoid Carnival Week
Do not expect to do any business during Carnival Week which is really a national holiday. Carnival week immediately proceeds Lent and usually falls in February, so if you are planning on travelling to Brazil during that time, you should enjoy yourself during the Carnival, but don’t expect any business to get accomplished. The same is generally true for the Christmas to New Year period as many businesses slow down and even close over that time. Plus, the July school holidays are also a time when businesses slow down as well.
These tips will help you understand the Brazilian business etiquette a little better so you can make the best impression possible.