16 Business Etiquette Rules in Brazil

Business Etiquette In Brazil
Friendship rules the business world in Brazil. The famous Brazilian saying: "to our friends, everything; to others, the law," reflects the importance of personal relationships and personality in business. Business meetings are relaxed and start and end with small talk.

1. Punctuality Is Variable

Brazilians are more relaxed than Westerners about timekeeping. You should arrive on time for a meeting, but don’t be surprised if your Brazilian business partners are 15 minutes late.

If invited to a home, arrive 15 to 30 minutes late. Arriving early or on time is impolite.

2. Dress For The Occasion

Brazilians are generally informal, but business meetings call for formal business attire. Women wear elegant dresses, knee-length skirts, or pants with blouses. Men wear dark-colored suits, long-sleeved shirts, and ties.

In social gatherings, you can wear casual but elegant clothing. They have a strong fashion sense, so you’ll want to look your best.

3. Greetings

The good old handshake is still the most common greeting. Shake hands with everyone when you arrive and when you leave. Direct eye contact is important, as is a firm but not tight handshake.

It’s also common for women to lightly kiss each other on the cheek as a greeting. The cheek-kissing ritual can be once, twice, or thrice. If meeting a woman, wait for the woman to initiate a handshake.

When addressing someone, the proper address is Senhor for men, Senhora for women, and Senhorita for young single ladies, followed by their last name. When meeting someone for the first time, say “muito prazer” (meaning my pleasure).

4. Business Meetings are for Networking

Schedule meetings two to three weeks in advance. Business meetings start with small talk. Brazilians view meetings as an opportunity for networking and relationship building.

Have an agenda for the meeting but expect interruptions and side conversations. Keep your presentations short, at most 30 minutes. Look for a translator because meetings are often done in Portuguese.

5. Business Cards Rule

Two-sided business cards are ideal since English is not the official language. Have one side printed in Brazilian Portuguese and the other in English. Present your card with the Portuguese side facing up. Exchange business cards during introductions when attending a meeting.

6. A Strict Authority Hierarchy

Companies are hierarchical. Each person has their place in the hierarchy, and responsibilities are clearly defined. The top manager has the most authority, followed by the next management tier. Positions are given to people based on their experience, skills, and credentials.

If meeting with senior managers, you can impress them by:

  • Addressing them with their titles. For example, Doctor or Professor.
  • Being respectful of their time and status by inviting them for a business lunch in a quality hotel.
  • Don’t rush small talk. Build a rapport before getting down to business.

7. Decision-Making & Negotiations Are Slow

The Brazilian business culture values consensus building, which means it can take a long time to agree. They people pleasers and will want to satisfy all parties involved in any negotiation before making a decision.

You can successfully negotiate if:

  • You’re patient
  • You understand that interruptions can be a sign of interest and engagement
  • You take time to build rapport with your Brazilian counterpart before moving into the negotiation process

8. Social Gatherings are for Networking

business and lunch
Buliding relationships over business lunch

Business lunches and dinners are how businesspeople connect and build relationships, just like the business culture in France. The etiquette can vary, but there are some general rules to follow.

  • Eat quietly. Belching and making noises with cutlery is poor etiquette.
  • Greet everyone when you arrive, and say goodbye to everyone when leaving.
  • Don’t leave food on your plate.
  • Lift your hand to call a waiter.

9. Giving Gifts

Giving gifts during business meetings is rare. If you wish to give a gift, ensure it’s not expensive to avoid misinterpretation. Expensive gifts might mean you’re bribing.

Gift-giving is more common at social events. If invited to a home, give your host a gift; if there are children, gift them age-appropriate gifts. Gifts such as chocolate and flowers (orchids) with a thank you note work well.

Don’t give black or purple gifts. These colors are for funerals.

10. Engage in Small Talks for Interpersonal Relationships

Prepare to engage in small talks with your host or business partner. This is a way of building trust and rapport with them, so don’t ignore the conversation because it seems trivial.

11. Communication Etiquette

Brazilians aren’t afraid of speaking their minds, so expect interruptions during meetings. Although they interrupt, they’re indirect communicators to avoid conflicts. They focus on body language more than listening.

Non-verbal communication includes backslapping, kisses (for women), and touching arms. People here don’t observe personal space. 

Hand gestures are another form of communication. There are two popular gestures; thumbs up to signal approval and rubbing hands together to signal that it is not a big deal.

When writing emails, an informal tone is acceptable. Whatsapp is the popular means of communication when doing business in Brazil.

12. Importance Of Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. It’s the formal language used in meetings and academics. It’s different from plain Portuguese, which is informal. Other spoken languages include Hispanic, English, and German.

13. Brazilians value hygiene and cleanliness.

They can shower even twice a day, depending on the heat. Brushing teeth is common after main meals.

Smelling good is very important in this country. You’ll notice that people wear perfumes, colognes, and deodorants. In March 2017, 69% of Brazilians reported not leaving the house without wearing a deodorant.

14. Hugging and Backslaps in a business setting

Hugging and backslapping are common among men in Brazil. Men often greet each other by patting each other on the back and then shaking hands.

15. Importance of Family

Brazilians are family-oriented and take great pride in their families. Family units are large as they include extended family members and adopted children. It is common for people to spend hours talking about their families.

16. Sexism & Patriarchy

Women don’t face discrimination here,  but sometimes men can use indirect remarks and teasing to belittle women.

It is a patriarchal society with a strong emphasis on machismo. This means men should be tough and strong, while women should be submissive and self-sacrificing. 

What is the work culture like in Brazil?

Most businesses operate from 8:00 am or 8:30 am to 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Lunch breaks are an hour or two. If open on Saturdays, doors open from 9:00 am to noon. Weekly working hours range from 40 to 44.

Brazilians assume you must work as long as it takes to complete your task. This means working hours are not adhered to.

Do’s and Don’ts in Brazil

To Do’s ✅To Don’ts ❌
Accept social invitations.Discuss Argentina.
Use bright colors to wrap gifts. The national flag colors, yellow and green, are a good choice.Refer to Brazilians as Latin Americans
Get a despechantes, a Brazilian sponsor, to ease your way into the culture.Use the OK gesture (it’s vulgar in Brazil)
Accept coffee invitations, even if you don’t drink coffee.Schedule meetings during vacation months; January, February, and July.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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