Brazilian way of life
When negotiating with Brazilians, refusing to continue the talk in a restaurant or demanding verbal promises to be immediately translated into contracts could jeopardize opportunities for good deals. "The personal aspect is critical in negotiations with Brazilians, Chinese, Russians and Indians. Many foreigners are very rigid and cannot understand the possibility of having to adapt themselves quickly in the face of new circumstances," says Ligia Maura Costa, PhD in International Trade Law from Université de Paris-X, a professor at Getúlio Vargas Foundation and author of a profile study based on interviews with 40 Brazilians with experience in international negotiations.
Some of the characteristics of businessmen and women also apply to any kind of relationship they build in a foreign country. Improvisation, for example, is a very important cultural adaptation. If 65% of executives surveyed by the researcher admit they have not prepared themselves adequately for a negotiation, it won't beat at a get-together with friends at a bar when Brazilians will be punctual. They can change their minds several times about the location or even fail to stick to their promise of showing up.
Yet, the Brazilian has difficulty in accepting demands on punctuality and likes foreigners who have the ability to deal with sudden changes with good humor, "Humor is an important tool to conquer Brazilians of any region. And when one is well accepted on a personal level, the business opportunities and proposals for jobs arise more easily," says Professor Ligia. This is because personal contact is considered vital to strengthen credibility and trust.
Body to body
It is also important to understand how Brazilians are into the habit of communicating affectionately. They hug, speak close to each other, give pats on the back, and hugs in public. It is not a matter of privacy invasion, but a way of strengthening mutual trust. Reacting badly to an effusive handshake, for example, can be interpreted as a sign of rudeness and arrogance, which may frustrate the adaptation to the new country or even the closing of business deals.
Behavior patterns change little when comparing different regions of the country, the world's fifth largest in area, with 8.5 million km2 of area and 192 million inhabitants. The territorial extension offers a wide range of climate and vegetation, but the way the country was colonized ensured uniformity in the use of Portuguese – the foreigner will not find dialects, but only variations in accent and idiomatic expressions. The business culture also follows certain patterns of behavior throughout the country.
Sources:(contents in portuguese)
An Enigma Called Brazil, André Botelho e Lilia Moritz Schwarcz (org.), Companhia das Letras, 2009.
Getúlio Vargas Foundation