Brazil: Let’s Make a Deal!


What you should know before negotiating


The official Brazilian language is Portuguese. In a business environment English is widely used and understood, especially in the main business centers – southwest and south regions. Brazilians do not perceive themselves as Hispanics, since they were colonized by Portugal, and also don’t like to be called Latinos.

Before you start speaking in Spanish or any other language, always ask if the person is familiar with the language.

Corporate Culture

The public and the private mix a lot in a business environment with Brazilians. Bridging a strong personal relationship will be very important to close deals and to build a lasting partnership. At each negotiation, friendships are established and an exchanging of favors is always expected.

Brazilians have as a trait the attraction for risks but they are extremely against the methods and process. It’s difficult for them to meet the deadline that was previously agreed upon. Another important trait is that Brazilians are very emotional and transfer it to the negotiation table.

Initially, there is always some kind of mistrust and, due to that, constant meetings, business lunches and dinners are important to establish a trustworthy relationship.

Face-to-face negotiation is extremely important to close a deal. It’s advisable to set up an appointment for an introduction and then continue the negotiation by e-mail or phone. In such a way, the negotiation will have better chances of success.

Once the mistrust is overcome, the Brazilian inclination is towards group work and full loyalty is expected from the team. Pointing the finger at any member of the team amounts to betrayal.

Another way to establish trust is to have previous references from persons who are acquainted with both sides. Networking is an important facilitator to get a first contact and the possibility for negotiation in Brazilian companies.

Hire local lawyer and accountant’s offices. The Brazilian executive will feel safer negotiating in such a manner.

Hire a local agent (usually referred by the accountant) because it will facilitate the bureaucratic proceedings.

In a first business meeting, Brazilians greet each other shaking hands and afterwards exchange business cards.

Business cards are expected to have the company’s name and the name and position of the contact person, preferably with information in Portuguese and in the language of the foreign company involved in the negotiation.

Promotional material or other documents of the foreign company should be in Portuguese and English or in the language of the negotiator.

When entering in a room for a meeting, it’s the norm to greet and be introduced to all persons who are already in the room.

The meetings are generally conducted in a casual manner. One side makes an expository introduction and immediately afterwards the other side asks questions.

Before reaching the topic to be discussed in the meeting, there is usually an informal conversation about generalities to promote a friendly environment among the persons who are attending the meeting. It’s not advisable to initiate the meeting going straight to the point. It can be perceived as rudeness by the Brazilians.

In a meeting Brazilians will argue in favor of their views, show their points of view and open space for concessions. It’s important to keep a consistency in your negotiation team.

When a negotiation process is already in place, avoid changing the persons involved, because relationships are personal for Brazilians and that’s the way to establish a trustworthy relationship. Changing the negotiation team in the middle of the process is a sure step to failure.

Never leave a meeting in the middle of it or before its end because, for Brazilians, it will look like you have more important things to do than this negotiation.

Brazilians have a strong notion of hierarchy that encompasses power concentration and acceptance of inequality within companies. However, the treatment among persons is informal with the use of “you” (você) between persons of high-ranking positions and their subordinates, despite the fact that everybody is aware that hierarchy surfaces through other ways.

Although several more technical spheres are involved in the negotiation, the higher spheres, like the companies’ board of directors and presidency, are responsible for the final endorsement to close the deal.

Contracts are always signed with the date, place, signature from both sides, payment terms and conditions and delivery conditions.

Working environment

Leaving work without finishing it or leaving the workplace at the regular time, even if desired, in some regions, especially Sao Paulo, is not something that will be accepted well by your Brazilian colleagues. The number of worked hours is a valued asset in Brazilian business culture.

The relationships between chiefs and subordinates are made without confrontation in points that could generate arguments, something that demonstrates aversion to conflicts and passivity.

It’s common for people to gather during the working hours to have a break and drink coffee in a company. This is the moment when people get closer and establish a connection of “friendship” in the working environment.

Not participating in the company’s functions or informal events can be perceived as lack of consideration by the workmates.

In the majority of the companies, only directors and presidents have individual offices. Secretaries are only for high-ranking executives.

Brazilians are always open to new ideas but don’t deal well with criticism that, most of the time, is taken personally and not perceived as directed to the executed task.