Cross-Cultural Communication

    Welcome to South America--Brazil



Acceptable Public Behavior

  • The O.K. sign is considered vulgar

  • When things are going well, use the acceptable gesture of the “thumbs up.”

  • Brazilians usually greet each other with long handshakes and noticeable eye contact; close friends embrace

  • Women will often greet each other by touching cheek to cheek

Business Attire

  • The seasons in Brazil are opposite of North America, so dress appropriately for the season

  • Men should wear dark suits in black, charcoal gray or navy.

  • Women should dress conservatively in dresses, suits, pantsuits, and skits, but the style should also be elegant.

  • Do not wear colors of the Brazilian flag, which are green and yellow

Conversations and Networking

  • Do not use first names until you are invited to do so.

  • Always address your Brazilian contact person by his or her title

  •  The term “Senor” or “Senora” is used to precede the surname

  •  Make appointments of any kind at least two weeks in advance.

  • Brazilians conduct business only through personal connections, so you’ll need a personal contact person before you plan your travel or networking with Brazilians.

Meetings, Presentations, and Negotiation Tactics

  •   Business entertaining is conducted over lunch or dinner

  • Set aside at least two hours for business lunch, and a minimum of three hours for a business dinner

  •  f you are invited to a social dinner, you may arrive 30 minutes late.

  • Most restaurants will add 10% to the bill; leave another 5% for the tip.

Dinner Etiquette

  • Never touch food with your fingers, as Brazilians consider this rude.

  • Cut all food, including fruit, vegetables, and sandwiches, with your knife.

  • After you have cut your food, position your knife so that the tip of the blade is resting on the plate and the handle is lying on the table.


  • Giving a gift is not necessary during a first meeting. Instead, offer to buy lunch or dinner and use this opportunity to learn more about the client’s tastes.

  • Small electronic items are often appreciated as gifts

  • Avoid items in black or purple, since these are the colors of mourning.

  • Gifts of knives, scissors, or letters openers are interpreted as the severing of close bond.


A summary of this information can be found at Executive Planet.
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