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Business Culture

Culture is constantly evolving and some would argue that business practices are equally pervasive. Furthermore, Brazil is a diverse country with various roots, cultures and opinions. Diversity aside, the following section seeks to address the common issues that we, by experience, know cause trouble and frustration for Scandinavians and Europeans alike.

Negotiations and business meetings
Brazilian business meetings are informal but respectful. Meetings are often started with casual conversation and small talk to break the ice. However, the informal and extroverted atmosphere should not be seen as an excuse to act unprofessionally. Brazilians take time when negotiating. Do not rush them or appear impatient. Expect a great deal of time to be spent reviewing details.

Brazilian business is hierarchical. Decisions are made by the highest-ranking person. Brazilians negotiate with people, not companies. Be careful about changing your negotiating team or you may have to start over from the beginning. In São Paulo and Brasilia it is important to arrive on time for meetings. In Rio de Janeiro and other cities it is acceptable to arrive a few minutes late for a meeting. Do not appear impatient if you are kept waiting. Brazilians see time as something outside their control and the demands of relationships takes precedence over adhering to a strict schedule.

Greetings in Brazil are relaxed. Handshakes are used for greetings between men, and a woman is greeted by either a handshake, or if the event is more informal, one or two kisses on the cheeks (used interchangeably).

Brazilians present themselves either by first name only, or a combination of first and surname. Although Brazilians are quite informal in their communication, it is common good practice to use Mr. and Mrs. /Miss. plus the surname, until the Brazilians themselves move to use first names.

Building relationships and personal contact
Relationship building and personal contact is very important for Brazilians. Wait for your Brazilian colleagues to raise the business subject. Never rush the relationship building time. Despite the preference of face-to-face oral communication over written communication, it is important to note that when it comes to business agreements, Brazilians insist on drawing up detailed legal contracts.

Brazil has a very strong group culture and it is important that nothing is done that appears to embarrass a Brazilian. This being said, communication does not rely on strict rules of protocol. Anyone who feels they have something to say will generally add their opinion.