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Brazil Business Etiquette & Culture

Brazil etiquette and manners                      Brazilian etiquette and manners plus cultural information

Brazil Introduction

Brazil has a population of 146 Million people concentrated on its two hundred miles of east coast. Over 90 percent of the people live on 10 percent of the land, and over 15 Million live in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s ethnic composition is 55 percent European descent (primarily Portuguese), 38 percent a mixture of cultures (African, German, Japanese, Amerindian, and so forth), 6 percent African, and only 1 percent Amerindian. Brazil is a multiparty federal republic. The president is both the chief of state and the head of the government. There are two legislative houses: an 81 member Senate and a 503-member Chamber of Deputies.

Portuguese is the official language, although some of the population speak Spanish, Italian, or various Amerindian languages. There is no official religion, however the predominant religion is Roman Catholic (about 90 percent of the population). Some 16 percent practice Afro-Brazilian religions that combine tribal and Catholic beliefs (Spiritual Catholics) and Evangelical Catholics make up 9 percent. Protestants, Judaism, Buddhism, and other religions account for less than 9 percent.

 

Brazil Fun Fact

Brazil is the World's 5th largest country . . . both by population and land area.

Nearly 50 percent of the population is under twenty years of age. Despite massive economic problems, Brazil is often regarded as a potentially rich country with a strong industrial sector, large agricultural production, and rich natural resources. An example of its potential for efficient utilization of resources is its processing of sugarcane into ethyl alcohol for fueling 1.5 Million Brazilian cars.


Geert Hofstede Analysis for Brazil


The Geert Hofstede analysis
for Brazil is similar to it’s Latin American neighbors. Uncertainty avoidance ranks highest which indicates a high concern for rules, regulations, controls and issues with career security – typically, a society that does not readily accept change and is risk adverse. A large power distance indicates that inequalities of power and wealth have been allowed to grow with Brazilian society. High long-term orientation ranking signifies Brazil has respect for tradition and supports a strong work ethic where long term rewards are expected as a result of today’s work.

Brazil is similar to many Latin American countries when analyzing Hofstede's Dimensions (see Latin America Hofstede Graph below).

Brazil's highest Hofstede Dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) is 76, indicating the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of this population is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.

Brazil has a slightly higher Individualism (IDV) rank of 38 compared to the average Latin population score of 21. However, virtually all the Latin countries are considered to be Collectivist societies as compared to Individualist cultures. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules.

In many of the Latin American countries, including Brazil, the population is predominantly Catholic (see Religions Graph below). The combination of Catholicism, and the cultural dimensions shown in the Hofstede Graphs above, reinforce a philosophy predicated in the belief that there is an absolute ‘Truth”. As Geert Hofstede explains about peoples with a high Uncertainty Avoidance Index, their attitude is, “There can only be one Truth and we have it.”

Brazil is similar to many Latin American countries when analyzing Hofstede's Dimensions.

Brazil's highest Hofstede Dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) is 76, indicating the society’s low level of tolerance for uncertainty. In an effort to minimize or reduce this level of uncertainty, strict rules, laws, policies, and regulations are adopted and implemented. The ultimate goal of this population is to control everything in order to eliminate or avoid the unexpected. As a result of this high Uncertainty Avoidance characteristic, the society does not readily accept change and is very risk adverse.

Brazil has a slightly higher Individualism (IDV) rank of 38 compared to the average Latin population score of 21. However, virtually all the Latin countries are considered to be Collectivist societies as compared to Individualist cultures. This is manifest in a close long-term commitment to the member 'group', be that a family, extended family, or extended relationships. Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules.

In many of the Latin American countries, including Brazil, the population is predominantly Catholic (see Religions Graph below). The combination of Catholicism, and the cultural dimensions shown in the Hofstede Graphs above, reinforce a philosophy predicated in the belief that there is an absolute ‘Truth”. As Geert Hofstede explains about peoples with a high Uncertainty Avoidance Index, their attitude is, “There can only be one Truth and we have it.” More information on Geert Hofstede

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

Religion in Brazil



* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

In a country that has over 50% of its population practicing the Catholic religion, we found the primary correlating Hofstede Dimension to be Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI). There were only 2 countries out of 23 that did not follow this correlation, they were Ireland and the Philippines. (See accompanying Article)

 

Appearance in Brazil

International Business Dress and Appearance   Three-piece suits carry an "executive" connotation, whereas two-piece suits are associated with office workers. Conservative attire for women in business is very important. Also make sure your nails are manicured

International Business Dress and Appearance   The colors of the Brazilian flag are yellow and green. Avoid wearing this combination in any fashion

International Business Dress and Appearance   Touching arms and elbows and backs very common

International Business Dress and Appearance   The O. K. hand signal a rude gesture in Brazil

International Business Dress and Appearance   To express appreciation, a Brazilian may appear to pinch his earlobe between thumb and forefinger

International Business Dress and Appearance   To invoke good luck, place your thumb between your index an middle finders while making a fist. This is also known as the "fig"

International Business Dress and Appearance   Flicking the fingertips underneath the chin indicates that you do not know the answer to a question

 

Behavior in Brazil 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Make appointments at least two weeks in advance. Never try to make impromptu calls at business or government offices

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Be prepared to commit long term resources (both in time and money) toward establishing strong relationships in Brazil. This is the key to business success

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Some regions have a casualness about both time and work. However San Paulo is not one of those, and in Rio casual refers to the personal and social events, not business. In these two cities, business meetings tend to start on time

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Never start into business discussions before your host does. Business meetings normally begin with casual 'chatting' first

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Midday the normal time for the main meal. A light meal is common at night, unless entertaining formally

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  American coffee is a mere shadow of Brazilian coffee. Expect to be served small cups of very strong coffee

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  In Brazil, restaurant entertainment prevails versus at home

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  If entertained in the home, it is polite to send flowers to the hostess the next day, with a thank-you note

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Giving a gift is not required at a first business meeting; instead buy lunch or dinner

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Purple flowers are extensively used at funerals, so be cautious when giving someone purple flowers. Violets are OK to give

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Toast: Saude or Viva (Sah-OO-Day, VEE-va)

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Tipping is typically 10% in Brazil

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  If you here the term jeito - it refers to the idea that nothing is set in stone, that a good attempt can break a rule

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture Considering sending a gift to someone in Brazil, see gifts to Brazil.

 

Communications in Brazil 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Handshaking, often for a long time, is common. Shake hands for hello and goodbye; use good eye contact; when leaving a small group, be sure to shake hands with everyone present

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  When women meet, they exchange kisses by placing their cheeks together and kissing the air

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  First names used often, but titles important

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Music and long, animated conversation are favorite Brazilian habits. When conversing, interruptions viewed as enthusiasm. Brazilians enjoy joking, informality, and friendships

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Portuguese is the language of Brazil

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Good conversation topics: soccer, family, and children

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Bad conversation topics: Argentina, politics, poverty, religion, and the Rain Forest

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Stay away from phases such as, "Is it true that everyone in Brazil is either very rich or very poor?" It is very likely you will be talking with someone that isn't either one

 

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Page authored by: Joni Nicol



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