Doing Business in Brazil: Official guide advises Britons on Brazilian Culture
The recommendations and observations such as avoid talking about Poverty and Argentina come from the UK Trade and Investment Agency (UKTI) and were included in an official guide published to help British entrepreneurs who is planning on doing business in Brazil. The guide, prepared to instruct interested in investing in the country, also warns of ‘physical contact’ and delays in meetings.
Prepared in time when the British government strives to expand bilateral economic relations, the guide contains practical information not only about how to handle the bureaucracy and intricate Brazilian tax system, but also tips on differences in business etiquette and interpersonal relationships. In 71 pages, exposes so curious cultural differences between the two countries.
‘Punctuality sometimes can be a problem in Brazil, but you should not interpret delays as a sign of rudeness or laziness, “says the document. ‘If you are late for an appointment, you should call the company to warn their Brazilian counterparts. But be aware that the Brazilians will be making jokes between them on the fame of the British being punctual! ‘
As in Britain business and social gatherings have time to start and to end the UKTI also think it is important to explain that Brazilians do not go away after a lunch or a dinner. And the workshops can ‘be lengthy and involve conversations about personal matters and amenities’.
‘At the end of the meeting, you have to repeat the whole process of handshakes and kisses and can take up to 10 minutes until finalize this process and can leave the room! This time must be included on your schedule, not take for granted that get out quickly, ‘warns the guide UKTI, preventing organized and generally methodical businessmen from his country.
The need to invest more in interpersonal relations than in Britain, in fact, is one of the points that draw the attention of Britons who recently started doing business in Brazil as Pam Dubois, director of ILS English, which specializes in corporate training and English courses for companies.
With about 30 employees, ILS is headquartered in the city of Nottingham. ‘The British tend to go more to the point, while in Brazil, it takes more time and patience to gain the confidence and sympathy of his business partner,” Dubois told BBC Brazil.
The official guide of UKTI also makes observations on the ‘Brazilians’ body language’. According to the document, ‘Brazilians speak very close’ to his interlocutors and ‘with much physical contact. ” ‘Play arms and shoulders is normal and men can give pats on the back’ alert.
UKTI also says the ‘Brazilian business culture is similar to that of southern Europe, with considerable influence in Africa and Asia regionally’. And entrepreneurs are instructed to learn a little Portuguese.
‘To communicate basic messages (when in Brazil) know Spanish or Italian can help (…) But do not start speaking Spanish directly, because Brazilians may think you do not know their language is Portuguese, and it will leave a bad impression ‘, the text alert.
The guide also attentive to the importance of employers being flexible, because things tend to change ‘fast and unexpectedly’ in Brazil. ‘The Brazilians are famous for finding a way around the problems, “he explains.
To understand the laws and Brazilian bureaucracy, the UKTI recommends, first of all, a lot of patience, then, that entrepreneurs make partnerships with local companies. ‘Patience is a virtue, “he says. ‘Some things to take longer than you expect (especially if they involve some paperwork), so get ready.’
Both Dubois as the businessman Roy Webber, from the design and branding company The Works (based in Leeds) which recently opened an office in São Paulo, agree that the pursuit of partnerships is one of the recipes for success in Brazil.
“Especially because it tends to facilitate receptiveness to British business,” says Webber. ‘That is, helps show that we are not going to Brazil to compete with local businesses or take jobs, but rather join forces and offer our expertise in some areas.’
According to Weber, one of the greatest difficulties of the British companies coming into the country is to understand the tax system of the country.
Bill Hanway, CEO of British subsidiary of AECOM (who designed both the London Olympic Park and the Rio de Janeiro Park), agrees.
‘There are obviously some cultural distinctions we perceive in everyday life, but, in the end, they do not make much difference in business, “said Hanway. ‘The biggest challenges are even related to bureaucratic issues, legislation and understanding of the dynamics of competition in the Brazilian market.’
Last year, a guide published by the official agency for tourism in Britain to educate Brits on how to treat visitors who arrive for the London Olympics caused controversy in several countries. For some, this list of ‘tips’, which already mentioned the ‘fame’ of Brazilians arriving late to appointments and rivalry with the Argentines, reinforced cultural stereotypes.