Posted by: changholt | September 19, 2013

Brazil “Dos” and “Don’ts”


In international business adapting to local customs is essential in order to succeed. My cultural expertise comes from my experience in Asia and China specifically (nothing like making tons of mistakes over 15 years to learn a fen things). However, I am not as experienced at doing business in Brazil, and I am planning to visit our Brazil operations next week. During our preparations the HSI team put together a few helpful hints when doing business in Brazil (dos and don’ts):


•Separate meetings to finalize Brazilian negotiations.

•Demonstrating strong character and enjoyable personality.

•Develop a personal relationship before getting to business.

•Prepare business cards in both English and Portuguese.

•Expect informal and slow pace to Brazilian business affairs, despite a very formal meeting.

•Begin with “small talk,” an important element to the Brazilian business protocol.

•Make decisions based on the particulars of the unique situation.

•Prepare to address the big picture

•Prepare good visuals for any presentation.

•Be positive during Brazilian business negotiations.


•Don’t expect one productive meeting will be enough to finalize any agreement.

•Don’t attempt to build relationships in business negotiations which are considered to be arrogant and untrustworthy.

•Avoid making changes to your negotiating team.

•Don’t discuss about personal lives

•Avoid making decisions relied on externally determined guidelines.

•Avoid focusing on individual details of the business proposal.

•Avoid confronting a Brazilian negotiator

•Don’t leave as soon as a meeting is completed!

•Do not be alarmed if Brazilians only offer their word or a handshake to initially finalize an agreement.

I hope these hints help you as much as they always help me.


  1. I agree that it’s very important to know the local business culture to be successful in business. So here are some more tips:

    1- Be patient and insisting: although Brazilians are warm and open in meetings, the negotiations will give their fruits after a long time.

    2- Do not criticize and point out the weak points of the competitors in a meeting, ethics are important.

    3- Do not promise what you will not fulfill. Brazilians have a good memory for promises.

    4- Say thank you by e-mail or phone right after the meeting and start doing what you promised in the meeting right away. Although the business pace is slow in Brazil, people appreciate fast answers.

    5- Try to set the meeting with the director/supervisor of the responsible department.

    6- Having contacts is important, increase and use your networks.

    7- A phone call is always more effective than an e-mail.

    8- Speak in Portuguese with Brazilians. Although you may not be fluent, Brazilians always like to see foreigners trying to speak their language.

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