The one word I find myself using over and over when explaining how Brazilians are is “passionate.” What does that mean to you, you might ask? Everything. Understanding how to work with passionate people can be a very interesting process because passion can be expressed in so many ways and some of which can come across negatively. For example, Brazilians are famous for having heated arguments at work when they want to defend a point or persuade clients and partners to buy a certain product or service. A lot of Anglo cultures do not understand this and, in many circumstances, feel really uncomfortable with these situations. I am here to tell you, this is absolutely normal.
Brazilians are passionate about their work, about their family, about their friends, and about what they believe in. It’s not common for Brazilians to simply listen to something and not participate or expose their points of view. That’s where the topic of politically correctness also comes into play. Most Brazilians don’t understand what that means. You can expect to hear all types of opinions and hear things that in your home country may be considered out of line. If you are going to Brazil for business or pleasure or if you work with Brazilians, please make sure to always keep that in mind.
In a culture where people are used to express themselves openly, probably because of its dictatorship history, it can be tricky for outsiders to feel like they can fit in. You don’t have to change who you are or get into conversations you don’t feel comfortable with. However, do expect to talk about politics, religion, sports and every other controversial topic that may be out in the surface at the time. Brazilians are argumentative people and they will defend their points until the end. In office environments this can be seen a little differently due to hierarchy. Don’t expect, for example, to see a lower level person arguing or questioning his/her manager. With people from the same level this is a little different.
The positive side of all this passion is that most Brazilians will give their all to do their best work. They are creative, resourceful and loyal. Their passion drives them to become a part of the team and truly dedicate themselves to the cause of the company or organization. For foreign managers going to Brazil it is crucial to learn and understand how to manage all this. It may feel like you are on a roller coaster at first but after a while you will appreciate the process. Passion drives people to deliver and if you as a company can stimulate and compensate that in the best way possible, you will be surrounded by the best people out there. If you have not heard the term “creative tension,” know that you will live this working with Brazilians on a daily basis. Creative tension if used positively can be your best asset.