Cultural tips: Brazil

Motivating Factors and Negotiating Characteristics

  • Show affection for Brazil at all times.
  • Show great compassion. They favor interdependence in business and expect to be helped in times of tragedy or failure. Brazilian companies are generally paternalistic and forgiving.
  • Give advice and help. One should always show that one has a big heart and that one cares about their personal problems as well as their competence on the job.
  • Be friendly and informal. As they have a very open and informal society, there is very little the foreigner can do to upset a Brazilian.
  • Be happy. Try not to react suspiciously to the warmth emanating from the Brazilians - they strive to be liked and to please others.
  • Avoid stuffiness and formality. Otherwise, they will not know how to react.
  • Talk about football – and be distant about Argentina.
  • Accept social invitations enthusiastically - it is a wonderful way to get to know your counterparts and will prove to be a very worthwhile experience for you personally.
  • Enquire about elder relatives.
  • Accept physical closeness, kissing and hugging. Brazilians excel as “space invaders” - As they are tactile in the extreme, accept with grace their arm-patting and warm embrace.
  • During meetings and negotiations, Brazilians prefer informality, though in business they wear formal clothes.
  • Be relaxed about time. Do not become annoyed at their unpunctuality. Remember, fifteen to thirty minutes is not considered late in Brazil. Time frames are very elastic; starting times, duration and other arrangements may change. The agenda is only an initial guide, not a rigid plan, and meetings can change direction spontaneously.
  • Put relationships before product and procedure. Small talk always comes before hard negotiation as the Brazilians aim to get to know the people they are dealing with.
  • Build up the confidence of hesitant performers. They do not enjoy open disagreements so you may have to invite them to disagree, if you sense that they are not happy with a proposal. Unlike many other Latins, they are not greatly worried about losing face.
  • Meetings tend to be erratic, even chaotic, with constant interruption of the agenda under discussion, as participants all come up with their own very creative ideas. Remember they often interrupt without wishing to be rude. Accept lengthy discussions when they put forward their point of view.
  • Accept the fact that the truth appears in many guises. The Brazilians like to please and will often tell people what they want to hear, stretching the truth to some extent.
  • Be forward-looking and futuristic. Brazilians like to see the big picture; they do not worry much about the details.
  • While demonstrating exuberance and energy at the outset of a new project, Brazilians tend to lack perseverance in the follow-up stage and frequently leave projects unfinished. Facile, immediate solutions are grabbed at; the result is often a lack of long term planning.
  • Be charismatic in outlining plans and projects. Brazilian negotiators are typically flexible and are quick to take unexpected opportunities.

Source: CultureActive by Richard D. Lewis

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