Brazil - Business CustomsBrazil - Business Customs
Business visitors should be aware of several customs specific to Brazil. Compared to the United States, the pace of negotiations is slower and is heavily based on personal contact. It is rare for important business deals to be concluded by telephone, email, or letter. Many Brazilian executives do not react favorably to quick and infrequent visits by foreign sales representatives, or to changes in the negotiating team. They prefer a more continuous working relationship, ideally involving multiple visits/meetings with the same person or group of people. The Brazilian buyer is also concerned with after-sale service provided by the exporter.
The Brazilian approach to time is somewhat flexible, with scheduled meetings often starting late and/or running later than expected. Prepare your agenda in order to accommodate these possible changes. Persistent traffic issues in most major Brazilian business centers mean that sufficient time should be scheduled for transportation, as well. It is advisable to be punctual, and to not show signs of frustration or impatience with delays.
During a first visit to a company it is customary to give a gift, usually promotional items without great material value. Expensive gifts can be misunderstood as bribes and are not welcome. Be aware that business dress is often formal and conservative, in spite of the apparent informality while conducting business.
Personal space standards in Brazil are different than those in the U.S. It is not uncommon for a local contact to stand very close while speaking, pat a business contact on the shoulder, or even hug that person. In spite of the difference in personal space, it is better to act more formal rather than less during an initial meeting. Also, communication in Brazil happens in an overlapped manner, with people interrupting each other constantly – this is a sign of interest in the subject, not of disrespect.
Brazilians are very proud of their country and their culture. It is appreciated when visitors can comment intelligently on culture during meetings. Also, refrain from making cultural references to other countries and cultures in Latin America. Brazilian culture is unique and is regarded as distinct from Spanish-speaking nations.
It is advisable not to use brochures in Spanish or translate presentations from Spanish.
While many Brazilian executives speak some level of English, they will be more comfortable and open in Portuguese. Having an interpreter available is recommended. English is not widely used by service workers, such as drivers or restaurant staff.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to share personal information that can help establish a good relationship up front.
Brazil Trade Development and Promotion Business Travel and Etiquette