In order to gain the most out of business trips abroad it is important to be able to adapt to and understand their culture if it is different to your own.
By doing this you are showing respect to the people you are meeting and can also greatly improve communication between the two parties.
In this article I will be outlining some tips to keep in mind if you decide to do business in Brazil:
• Firstly, be aware of the costs of doing business in Brazil, this can include governmental inefficiency, excessive taxation, legal and bureaucratic complications, corruption etc. This can be a very frustrating and high risk issue for international business people so look into forming close links with local accountants and lawyers so you don’t get caught out.
• Try to find out the hierarchical business structure of the potential partner as most decisions are done at a senior level, so you don’t want to end up dealing with someone who does not have the required authority to make important decisions for the company as this could cause a big delay in getting answers from the organisation. If you do find out the hierarchal structure be aware of the fact that it may not be 100% correct due to the effect of personal relationships with in the organisation.
• A good relationship between employees is of great importance, the boss and other employees work hard to build and maintain a professional relationship that is based on trust and respect. If you do need to ask the subordinates to complete a task ensure you provide clear and detailed instructions, if the task is not completed properly question your instructions first before questioning the employees.
• When attending a meeting in Brazil keep in mind the following:
- Initial meetings are usually formal but subsequent meetings tend to be less formal and could start off with some casual banter, don’t hurry this part as it will help to form a good relationship with the others and the last thing you want is to come across as impatient or rushed.
- Punctuality is not of high importance and meetings may start and finish later than planned, try not to become frustrated or annoyed if this happens as the potential relationship you are building is more important than set agendas.
- Brazilians can appear very emotional in meetings, this is just an expression of their commitment and does not necessarily mean a lack of control or that they are angry.
- It is also common for exaggerated language to be used and can be combined with a close proximity and continual eye contact, it is important to adapt to these communication styles quickly as becoming reserved to their ways could come across as you being unfriendly.
- Although many people in the higher ranks will most likely speak English, it is not commonly spoken throughout Brazil so it is a good idea to look into hiring an Interpreter during your visit. Ensure the Interpreter is Portuguese and does not interpret in Spanish as the Brazilians take pride in being non-Spanish speakers and it would be seen as disrespectful if the interpreter speaks in Spanish.
• If your trip requires a lot of team working it is important to allow everyone to get to know each other to form those highly valued relationships.
• Oral communication is used more often than the written word so if you do send something in the written format it is wise to follow up with a call or visit.
• Women in Brazil are welcomed into the business world, but it is unlikely you will come across women in the highest and most senior levels of an organisation. Saying this, the old ways are not forgotten by Brazilian men in the sense that they may not allow a woman to pay for a lunch or will make an effort to compliment women on they appearance or looks.
• Finally, dress code is very important and formal, it is vital that you look your best as first impressions are highly valued in the initial stages of the relationship building process.
by +Steph Lyons