Tuesday, 23rd January 2018

Business in Brazil

Posted on 01. Feb, 2012 by in ENVIRONMENT

Brazil is a very welcoming country to business people from all over the world. Are you planning to travel to Brazil on business soon? If so, please consider these various scenarios and the proper business etiquette before you go.

Marty has been asked by his company to finalize a deal in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Marty has never been to Brazil and does not speak Portuguese, but this does not faze him, and he is looking forward to the business trip. He grabs his company’s brochures and heads to the airport.

Marty needs to provide the brochure in Brazilian Portuguese. Many Brazilians speak English, but if you are going to the country for business, make sure that you have translated your company’s brochure into Brazilian Portuguese. Th is shows both preparation and respect.

Marty took his business cards with him on his trip to Brazil. He also made sure that his memory drive contained the proposal he was going to present. As part of Marty’s preparation for his business meeting, he should translate the proposal into Brazilian Portuguese. Th is guarantees that the Brazilian company will completely understand all facets of the document. It’s okay to have an English-only business card to hand-out in Brazil.

If your company already has an office in Brazil though, the business card should be in English and Brazilian Portuguese.

Marty arrives at his hotel in Sao Paulo Brazil. He decides to drop in to say a quick hello at the office where he will have a meeting the next day. He is wearing his jeans and casual top.

In Brazil, it is expected that a more formal protocol will be used for meetings. It is not in good taste to appear at an office unannounced. Marty will very likely be told to come back the next day at the actual meeting time. Also, business dress is taken very seriously in Brazil. Do not go to a meeting in jeans, casual shoes, or low-cut blouses, dresses or shorts.

Marty arrives the next day for his previously scheduled meeting with the company. The meeting is at 10 a.m. and he arrives at 9:45 a.m. At least two days prior to the meeting, Marty should have confirmed the appointment by email and a phone call but Marty arrived at the meeting at an appropriate time.

Marty is meeting with five people in the office –three men and two women. He is unsure of how he should greet each person, especially the women. The proper greeting between men is a handshake. A man greeting a woman will give her an air kiss (on the right cheek), even at the first introduction. Marty should address the clients formally with “Seu” before the male client’s last name, and with “Dona” before the female client’s last name. Eye contact is important with both sexes.

Marty is anxious to begin his presentation. The meeting is starting late as it is, and he doesn’t want to continue the small talk that is happening. For Brazilians it is very important to build a personal relationship before conducting business. Marty’s cell phone rings and he excuses himself to take the call.

This behavior is not acceptable because it tells Marty’s clients that they are not his priority and instead he feels it’s okay to stop and take a phone call from someone else.

Marty decides to go with the flow of the casual conversation before starting the official meeting, so he brings up the topic of soccer and announces that he believes that American football is a much more exciting game to watch.

Going with the flow of the casual conversation is a good idea, but it’s not a good idea to speak poorly about soccer since it’s a Brazilian national treasure. Marty should stick to talking about the weather or a local news event that he read about in advance.

The meeting turns serious as Marty is given the green light to present his proposal. He had the foresight to hire a translation agency in the United States to translate his proposal into Brazilian Portuguese and he had previously sent the proposal to them in both languages.

Marty is on track in this scenario. It makes good business sense and is a courtesy to send the proposal to the client before the meeting and to send it in that country’s native language, as well as in English.

The meeting runs another two hours and Marty is feeling that things might not be going that well because there are a lot of questions and very animated discussions in Brazilian Portuguese. Make sure to leave plenty of time for meetings. In Brazil, there will be a lot of back and forth among the two parties, often with emotions openly expressed. Marty should be patient through this process and answer the questions completely. This will help the clients overcome any mistrust that they may have about Marty and his company.

Marty is glad that the meeting has ended, but frustrated that the contract has not yet been signed. Instead, the client has invited him to his home for dinner that evening.

Continuing the social aspect of the meeting to the evening is very common and it furthers the trust level that the client will feel. It’s very important that Marty not post any disparaging comments to his social outlets.

Marty arrives at the specified time to the client’s home, but finds that he has to wait in the foyer for half an hour before the hosts are ready to greet him. He didn’t have time to stop by to purchase a hostess gift for the client’s wife. But on the street he finds a vendor selling t-shirts of his favorite local American football team, and thinks that it’s better to take this as a gift, than to not take anything.

As mentioned before, it is a good thing that Marty arrived on time for the invitation, but he will have to get used to waiting a bit before the event actually begins. It is not in good taste to arrive empty-handed to the client’s home, but it’s even worse to arrive with a gift that is in bad taste. Good gifts include flowers, wine, chocolate and even a gift from Marty’s company with their logo on it. Expensive gifts are not a good idea because they could be interpreted as bribes.

While Marty’s story may seem exaggerated, it does show two things. First, when doing business in another country, it always helps to understand the business and personal culture of the people. Second, it just takes a little knowledge and research to prepare oneself. Brazilians are very understanding and forgiving people. But taking the time to grasp the proper cultural etiquette can make all the difference in sealing the deal.

How do you think Marty did with his first business trip to Brazil? Did he finalize the deal with the client? What should he do back at home to follow up? What do you think Marty would do differently on his second business trip to Brazil? Keep the conversation going: @UnoTranslations.

UNO Translations & Communications, LLC

Post By Brigitta S. Toruño (3 Posts)

Brigitta S. Toruño:

Briggita’s love of her native language, Spanish, drove her desire to work with languages and launch UNO Translations and Communications, LLC (UNO). She founded UNO in 1998 after more than a decade of work in the corporate world.


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