Cultural Differences of Brazilian and American Business Practices If one were to take a business trip to a foreign county such as Brazil, there are many cultural differences that the traveler should be aware of before arriving. By being aware of the cultural differences of the audience, the speaker can save themselves the embarrassment of having to apologize for a lack of knowledge about the way of life in this new country. There are a few key points that should be made aware of in regards to meetings, public speaking, formal introductions, and other every day aspects of business one will encounter.
Foremost, Brazilians like to deal with people more than they do companies or businesses. It may seem strange to Americans, but as do many other South American countries, Brazilians enjoy spending a good amount of time getting to know people before the topic of business is ever even brought up. Trust and dependability is a very important and cherished trait in Brazil, and the locals want to know they can trust who they are dealing with before taking things further.
This difference will have to be understood and accepted before things can progress into anything else. Brazilians find it rude and cold the way Americans rush right into business conversations pushing issues and requests. Another cultural difference between Brazil and the US is the concept of time, and time management. In Brazil, it is actually acceptable for meetings to start late, and run over the allotted time planned. Along these lines, a typical lunch meeting that would last an hour in the US, can last 3-4 hours in Brazil.
Travelers will need to be aware of this and plan for their schedules to be very spaced out. The idea of cramming 10 hours of work into an 8 hour day will not be met with a very good reception. Finally, another major difference between the American culture and Brazilian culture is the outlook on ‘work’ and jobs. In America, people are defined by their jobs or careers. They spend years of schooling and thousands of dollars to get their ‘dream job. ’ It’s not uncommon for Americans to work 10-12 hours per day.
However, this is the complete opposite in regards to the way of life in Brazil. Brazilians work to live. They put family and happiness first in their lives, and most only work to bring in enough money to furnish the basic needs of life for their families. It is uncommon for Brazilians to spend years pursuing a single job. This difference may strike the American as Brazilians being lazy, which is not the case. It’s only the way of life. Brazilians seek happiness above all else.