Brazilians are seen as an easygoing people, but can quickly lose their temper. Some subjects should be avoided when talking to them
Brazilians are considered optimistic and happy people. That being said, they are also generally “hot-blooded” people who love to exteriorize their emotions. They take their passions to a high level and are not afraid to express their feelings and opinions in public. Therefore, there are subjects you should avoid at all cost in order not to fire up discussions and debates. It is because of Brazilians’ tendency to have long and passionate debates that taxi drivers are now forbidden to talk about football, politics or religion while working. Let us give you some advice about communication in Brazil.
An affectionate and tactile way of speaking
When speaking with a Brazilian, do not be afraid of body contact. They will talk while standing close to you (about 30cm) and will not hesitate to touch your arm or shoulder. This is believed to reinforce the link between two people and the interest of the conversation. Eye contact is also of huge importance when speaking to Brazilians; not maintaining eye contact comes off as cold and will make you look rude and arrogant, which is not a good thing!
When in a formal meeting, shake hands and greet people with a simple “prazer,” meaning “nice to meet you,” with both women and men. You should try to start your greetings with the highest person in the hierarchy. If you have no clue as to who is who, start with the person you think is the oldest. If the meeting goes well and as planned, do not be surprised to receive a hug and a slap on the back at the end.
Show emotions and interest
When someone speaks, it is very useful to show expressions such as “sim,” “concordo” and “ah!” to demonstrate your interest in the conversation and in the other person.
As with most South American countries, the rhythm of conversation in Brazil might be different than what you’re used to. If your Brazilian interlocutor is interested in what you are saying, he or she might interrupt you. Do not be shocked by it – this is not a lack of respect, but the contrary.
Subjects to avoid
In professional life, it is recommended to avoid speaking about poverty, religion and politics. It is even more recommended with today’s political climate, which has divided the whole country in half. Even with friends, debates can be long and painful, and it will not be easy to get out of it.
Do not criticize Brazil – only Brazilians are allowed to do that. It is even worse to criticize the city you are in. Indeed, Brazil is so huge that people are extremely passionate about their region or city, and like to show their love for their hometowns and defend them in debates.
Brazilians’ favorite subjects
Brazilians love to share and discuss, especially with positive things, such as music, sports, parties, and holidays. You might feel that small talk before meetings is useless, but it is of huge importance in Brazil. This softens the context and the discussion before discussing more important matters.
Be funny! Brazilians love jokes. Having humor at work will make you seem fun, and surprisingly will make you more respectable in the eyes of your colleagues.
Intercultural skills are very important in professional life, especially in this globalized world. However in Brazil, adapting to local customs can be even more important than in other countries. Melting in the pot will help you to achieve your goals in your professional and personal life in Brazil. To sum it up, be at ease and comfortable during your interactions with Brazilians.