Brazil’s culture is colorful and diverse. This applies not only to private life, but also to the business world. Today’s blog post shows you what you should keep in mind when it comes to collaboration with Brazilian business partners.
Brazil ranks among the biggest and most well-known countries in South America, which is why we want to get our readers better acquainted with this exciting country. For instance, did you know that 11 of the 30 most dangerous cities in the world are in Brazil? Another interesting fact is hidden in the Brazilian flag: the stars on the blue background exactly represent the sky over Rio de Janeiro on November 15, 1889 – the time and place of the proclamation of the republic.
But there are also some things you may not have known about Brazilian business practices…
Live in the here and now
In Brazil, long-term plans tend not to be made. There are cultural and historical reasons for this, including the country’s recurrent economic volatility. Distant planning is thus rather deliberately avoided, as something could interfere at any time and upset the plans. Most Brazilians can consequently adapt to last-minute changes, both in private and professional contexts.
Here’s a practical example: In all likelihood, your Brazilian employees will seldom organize a project-related trip several weeks in advance and book the necessary hotels and flights. Stay calm if this happens! This wait-and-see attitude has nothing to do with a lack of interest; the employees rather want to avoid unnecessary [and expensive] delays and cancellations.
But keep in mind that the abovementioned behavior in no way implies that Brazilians don’t make any plans. It’s only very long-term and detailed plans that are unusual and tend to be seen negatively in Brazilian business. Rough concepts certainly exist as a general rule though.
Also keep in mind that your Brazilian business partners have a high level of flexibility, and they make use of it. Everything’s not just black or white or right or wrong. For the majority of Brazilians, the truth tends to lie in the middle, as contrasts often blend together in everyday life in Brazil.
Among other things, flexibility in everyday business arises from a polychronic way of working, which means that several tasks are worked on in parallel. The projects that get priority are those that are the most recent and most urgent. And last-minute schedule changes, exceeded deadlines and creative solutions are not uncommon in Brazil. Time is also a relative factor; meetings are often still considered to be on schedule even if they start up to 30 minutes late.
Another tip is that Brazilians tend to conceive of deadlines, rules and structures as relatively broad. If difficulties ever arise in this context, many Brazilians use a kind of trick – a so-called jeito. Managers in particular should have the ability to skillfully apply this trick. How it plays out is heavily dependent on the situation. It can range from creating a pleasant atmosphere for discussion through small talk to simple excuses to corruption. It all comes down to instinct.
Of course, there are many other things you should keep in mind when it comes to international business contacts. Do you need more information about business-related topics like meetings, presentations, negotiations and employee leadership? Then we recommend our cross-cultural training.