8 ways to make Brazilians raise their eyebrows
When blowing your nose
Surprisingly a practice that Brazilians find particularly distasteful is blowing one’s nose in public. Visitors to Brazil might be a bit flabbergasted when they sense a thinly veiled disgust when they blow their nose in front of others, particularly in business meetings or at the dining table. If you absolutely must do it, be discreet and avoid emitting trumpet-like sounds in the process.
Showering and having a clean appearance
Good personal appearance and hygiene is very important to Brazilians. In a country where temperatures soar, it’s important to have very good grooming routines as the heat will unmask you if you do not. Brazilians tend not to be discreet when body odour is over-powering and hygiene practices come into question. In business circles, it is recommended to be clean-shaven when meeting a Brazilian contact. However, if you have been lovingly nurturing your beard or moustache a tip would be to ensure it’s always well groomed.
Wrinkle free clothing
The search for a neat personal appearance knows no bounds when it comes to a Brazilian’s need for outward personal perfection. Brazilians tend to pay attention to small often missed detail. Some may even draw a parallel between how a person treats their clothes and how they treat their business relationships! As obvious as it may sound, one way to show that you are very attentive and organised is to ensure clothes are always pristine and wrinkle free when going to a business meeting. By the same token, a clean and shiny pair of shoes goes a long way to show how you present yourself to world.
Brazilian women take great pride in varnishing their nails – it is the icing on the cake when it comes to dressing. Wearing nail polish is so common (and expected) that both men and women in Brazil will notice if a woman has not varnished her nails. An easy way to build rapport with the Brazilian women you may meet is to compliment their choice of nail colour. This obsession applies to men too. You will even see that many Brazilian men pay special attention to their hands and nails and include regular manicures as part of their grooming regimes. Some men are even opting for a natural polish finish. In a business environment, it is not uncommon to hear men and women complimenting each other on their choice of nail colour or the quality of their manicure.
Removing female body hairs
Women tend to have a hard time in Brazil when it comes to body hair. Unlike in Europe the sight of hair on the legs or underarms is considered to be unhygienic and can lead to swift judgement and negative feelings about the hirsute person. Therefore, if you are a business woman travelling to Brazil you may consider removing visible body hair (legs and underarms mainly) just to prevent your business partners being distracted from the business in hand.
Brushing your teeth after lunch
Brazilians tend to consider it unhygienic not to brush their teeth after mealtimes– even after lunch or brunch. So if you go to lunch with Brazilians, don’t be surprised if you observe guests s excusing themselves to go to the bathroom at the end of the meal to brush their teeth. So if you have recently moved to an office environment in Brazil, one can leave a great positive first impression by joining Brazilians in this ritual.
Finger food etiquette
Brazilians tend to be quite obsessive about not touching snacks with their hands so it is considered good practice to only touch snacks with a napkin, not your fingers in social situations. It might seem a bit quirky but this information might come in handy when you hit the Brazilian networking circuit. You could, unknowingly, leave a bad mark against your name if you distractedly reach for food with your hands. We would even go as far as to say that the very good impression you might have made up to that point in a conversation will be tarnished by napkin-less hands.
Not talking about Bodily functions
Talking about bodily functions with Brazilians is a social taboo. Brazilians are very friendly and open and their apparent ease may mistakenly lead you to feel you can share a risqué joke about bodily functions. However, even if your colleagues or guests laugh politely, they will certainly consider it to be in poor taste. Idle chat about your digestive system, even if it is in a joke, will be held against you.
* Please note that we are not claiming that every Brazilian behaves or thinks in the way we describe above. Rather we are saying that these are very common cultural behaviour traits amongst some Brazilians.
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