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Brazil Traditional Customs

Brazil is a fascinating country, especially in terms of its rich culture, history and heritage. The following customs and features are part of its diverse culture:

• The communication style of Brazilian locals is usually relaxed and fairly informal.
• During a conversation, it is not uncommon to be interrupted, as this is not perceived as being rude.
• Brazilians are quite direct in their manner of speaking as well as in what they say.
• When communicating, locals will often touch one another lightly and stand close together. This applies even when two women are talking, or when a man and woman are in conversation. Do not mistake this for flirtation or inappropriate behaviour




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• People working in service provision (such as construction workers, nurses and house cleaners) will often avoid eye contact with those perceived to be above them in social status. Colleagues and friends will, however, usually maintain direct eye contact.
• Making brief eye contact with strangers is acceptable and commonplace.
• Punctuality is not generally strictly adhered to. However, those in corporate situations do, generally, try to maintain good time-keeping. As a visitor to the country, you should definitely stick to meeting times out of respect.
• A close friendship is indicated by rubbing the two index fingers together.
• Thumbs up indicates approval, while thumbs down represents unhappiness and disapproval.
• Sucking your thumb indicates a feeling of being left out.
• Sticking your thumb between your middle and index finger (which is usually considered to be a rude gesture in North America, South Africa, Australia and Europe) is a symbol of wishing someone good luck in Brazil.

• Women are generally expected to take care of all household chores.
• The legal drinking and smoking age is 18 years.
• Being in possession of a small quantity of drugs as a local generally results in a small fine. However, being in possession as a foreigner is likely to lead to deportment and / or time in prison.
• Brazilians are generally well dressed and neat.
• Corporate women should have manicured hands.
• In a work-related environment, it is not acceptable to wear jeans.
• If you do not know the marital state or academic qualification of the person to whom you are speaking, refer to them by the same title that they used to addressed you (that is, if they called you Mr or Ms, use the same gender-appropriate title to refer to them).
• Hand business contacts your business card when you are introduced to them.
• If you are going to Brazil on business, have a batch of business cards printed in English with Portuguese on the back. Then, present these cards to locals with the Portuguese side facing up.
• Corporate meetings are almost always preceded by plenty of small talk, as Brazilians tend to deal with those in whom they trust (and, therefore, know to some degree).
• Brazilians are not generally confrontational, so take a calm, friendly approach when dealing with them in business.

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