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Brazil Country Report

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BUSINESS AND SOCIAL ETIQUETTE FOR AMERICANS

CONDUCTING BUSINESS IN BRAZIL

Introduction

Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” These words best sum up the business world today. It is by responding to change and also learning what changes must be made to conduct business abroad or with foreign companies that some companies are able to stay afloat. It is this reason that makes it necessary for someone who is planning to tackle the global market to stay abreast of current and past actions that have taken place within the potential country. In addition, it is wise for one to have knowledge of the country’s social customs, political patterns, economic institutions, the workings of business in the country, class structure, value systems, family life, religion, and folk practices.

Social Customs

Brazilians primary language is Portuguese’s in which they speak majority of the time. One may want to get an interpreter when they go to Brazil to help them if they do not know the language. Brazilians are very animated people. Things that one needs to know about Brazil’s social customs are addressing others, public greetings, proper and improper gestures, conversation, and gift giving.

Addressing Others. Greeting people is very important in any culture. The Brazilians like to use first names but do not do so until one is invited to (Brazil: First Name or Title, 2006). Always address others by a title such as “doctor” and “professor” which is widely used in business settings. If there is no title then refer to your

counterpart as “Senhor” and “Senhora” (Brazil: First Name or Title, 2006). In Brazil, when using titles always use surnames. Brazilians have two surnames in which one is from the mother and the other from the father and you will use the last surnames which is the father’s surname (Brazil: First Name or Title, 2006).

Public Greetings. When strangers meet they often greet with “oi” meaning “hello” and “tchau” meaning “goodbye”. Brazilians like to be in close contact with each other so when greeting each other it is very common to stand very close to each other. Brazilians also greet with handshakes and steady eye contact. Other ways of greeting that is very common is hugging and black slapping. The women will often greet one another by kissing cheeks starting with the left than alternating cheeks (Brazil Public Behavior, 2006). Brazilians also like for people to maintain a soft-spoken manner.

Proper and Improper Gestures. When calling for someone’s attention, extend your palm face down and wave your fingers toward you. Other gestures that are considered proper are snapping of fingers while flailing their hands up and down which means that it happened “long ago” (Brazil Public Behavior, 2006). Brazilians also pull at the ear lobe which is a sign of appreciation where flicking the fingertips underneath the chin means that you don’t understand or that you don’t know the answer. Brazilians consider the “o.k.” sign to be vulgar. Other gestures such as yawning, stretching, smoking, and eating on the street or on public transportation is consider to be rude (Brazil Public Behavior, 2006).

Conversation. In the Brazilians culture, when having a conversation it is impolite to break eye contact. When talking Brazilians have fast paced conversations which are highly animated with frequent interruptions with exclamations of “no!” (Brazil’s: Conversation Part 1, 2006). Talking about travel, food, positive aspects of Brazilian Industry, Brazilian dance and country arts are all appropriate conversation topics. Topics of conversations that should be avoided are ethnic, politics, and personal questions (Brazil’s: Conversation Part 2, 2006). When having dinner with Brazilians it is appropriate to show up a half an hour later for dinner and up to an hour late for party (Brazil вЂ" language, culture, customs, and etiquette, n.d.). Brazilians are not concerned with time.

Gift Giving. Brazilians don’t necessarily expect gifts to be given. If you decide to present a gift do it in a relaxed social situation. On giving a gift do not give anything that is to expensive because it could cause embarrassment or be taken as you are trying to bribe them (Brazil: Gift Giving, 2006). Gift ideas that are appropriate are small electronic items, CD’s of popular U.S. entertainers. When you are invited into someone’s home it is appropriate to bring candy, fine wine, champagne, or scotch (Brazil: Gift Giving, 2006). When bringing a gift do not bring anything that is purple or black because this is associated with death. Handkerchiefs are also associated with funerals (Brazil вЂ" language, culture, customs, and etiquette, n.d.). These are two things that you want to avoid when purchasing a gift. It is also appropriate to bring small gifts for any children (Brazil: Gift Giving, 2006).

Housing, Food, and Clothing

Political Patterns

Political patterns of a country can help a business decide if the country is stable enough to do business with, while assessing other features the country has to offer. In Brazil, the political history is one of great turmoil and uncertainty, though now a democracy it is wise for one who plans on conducting business to know about the political background, how elections are conducted, the influence of media on politics, and if politics is a good topic of discussion.

Political Background. Brazil throughout history has seen the face of many political manifestations, from monarchy to military rule to now a democracy. Brazil became a democracy in 1989, and like the United States works on a system of checks and balances with its three branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial.

Elections. Election Day in Brazil is always a national holiday, which is usually on October 3; unless runoff elections are needed then a second election is done on November 15. Voting is considered both a right and a duty in Brazil; thus, registration and voting are compulsory between the ages of eighteen and seventy. Turnouts for all elections in Brazil are very high, usually more than 85 percent

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