Global Leadership Blog

Cross Cultural Reflections on Brazil II

Guest Blog Post By Barbara Stein

There are definitely a few things you need to know about Brazilians if you are moving to this amazing country, mainly if you are going to work with them.

As a Brazilian, I might be a bit biased talking about it. Especially, because it’s very hard to identify traits in the culture in which I am immersed.  But the following words I’ve heard from my manager, too, and he is German. He has been living in Brazil for two years.

Some weeks ago I had to make a presentation about Germany at college and I kindly invited him to join and make a short speech. He was able to describe to the class the differences that he could easily see in the Brazilian way of working and living.

1) Time: The first thing – of course – is about being late. If you have a meeting with Brazilians, don’t be surprised if they arrive around ten minutes late. It is common and they don’t feel embarrassed. But on the other hand they don’t mind if you are a little bit late.

2) Improvisation: If a Brazilian has a presentation to show in a meeting they probably will wait until the last minute to prepare. (We almost never prepare things in advance.) But the good part is that we are very good at unexpected situations, with a great capacity to improvise. That’s the famous “jeitinho brasileiro” (specific Brazilian way). We (almost) always get what we want.

3) Communication: Another topic, related to this last one, is the inability of a Brazilian to say “yes” or “no”. You will hardly hear these words during a meeting, even if you are waiting for those specific answers. You’ll probably listen to a “maybe”, “let’s see what we can do”, “I’ll check it”, “I’m not sure”, etc… It seems like we are afraid to disappoint someone with negative answers. But we also don’t want to commit and not deliver.

With these cultural differences, you’ll also see the most friendly, agreeable, and charismatic people. We really like to share and help people. You’ll see smiles, people will physically touch you, invite you to dinners, barbecues and happy hours. A business relationship with a Brazilian will go beyond working hours.

Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication.
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