How to do Business with Brazilian company and people?
Brazilians are mostly people oriented and it reflects in the way they do business. It is very important to them to know who they are doing business with before they can work effectively. Expect to be asked lots of questions about yourself and your company if you want to successfully do business in Brazil. Also, face-to-face meetings and oral communication are preferred instead of written communication as it allows them to know the person with whom they are doing business. However, when it comes to business agreements, Brazilians are very bureaucratic and draw everything up into detailed legal contracts. Closing a business in Brazil can be a long stressful task, so be ready to discuss every detail multiple times before an agreement is settled.
Criticism is often seen as an embarrassment, especially when given in front of other people. Brazilians tend not to be very direct and objective when it comes to negative feedback, and they expect others to be the same, Criticizing someone during a meeting, for example, will make the individual feel humiliated and can cause the a lot of embarrassment. It is also seen as negative for the person making the criticism, as they are breaking an unwritten rule. Depending of the words or tone used to criticize, it can lead to a labor lawsuits. In general, communication is often informal and does not obey strict rules. It is common to interrupt people during a meeting and add your opinion – when done respectfully, it is completely acceptable.
Meetings are generally informal and most business conversations start with an ice-breaker. Be ready to make some small talk and wait until your Brazilian colleagues engage into the business subject. Negotiations take time in Brazil but you should never rush the relationship building time or demonstrate impatience, otherwise you may lose people's trust. Considering the business in Brazil follows a very vertical hierarchy, the highest ranking person with the authority to make the final decision will not be the person negotiating with you, so expect a further call or e-mail with the final answer.
If you need to schedule a meeting, it is best to advise all parts 2 weeks in advance in writing. However, it is not uncommon to have appointments cancelled or postponed at the last minute. Be punctual to show credibility and professionalism but do not show impatience if the person or people you are meeting with don't. Brazilians have a higher tolerance for unpunctuality than other countries and consider the relationship with clients and partners more important than adhering to a strict schedule. Some cities, like São Paulo and Brasília are more business oriented and may have a lower tolerance for delays. Other like Rio de Janeiro will consider acceptable to arrive a few minutes late. Either way, it is extremely important to let the person know if you are running late – giving them a call is polite and show responsibility.
Brazilians like to dress up and that is a sign of status. In business environment, men should wear conservative dark colored suits – if you are an executive or want to give the idea of being one, try a three piece suit, despite the weather. Women wear suits or dresses (right above the knee is the expected length) with quality jewelry. Manicures are expected and are seen as a part of a woman's outfit and good personal care. Also, always carry your business card with you and, if possible, have one side translated into Portuguese.
Learning Brazilian Portuguese would have an additional advantage if you are doing business or staying in Brazil. Also it would help you in negotiations, getting along with the people and hiring people in Brazil. Most people speak only Portuguese Language and have less expertise in English language. Thus it is advisable and important to learn Brazlian Portuguese language and understand the culture before you start a business with Brazil.
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