Negotiation styles in Brazil

Written by Aurelia Erasmus, Cisco van Honk, Paloma Aparicio January 2014. Posted in Int. Skills, Negotiations

Negotiation styles in Brazil

Brazil is a vast country that offers a lot of cultural diversity from north to south, east to west. Therefore, depending on one’s negotiating counterpart, the pace of an agreement can differ tremendously (Acuff, 2008). As a consequence, before negotiating you must ensure that thorough research has been completed. For example, the Paulistas (from the state of Sao Paulo) are considered to act at a faster pace and prefer to execute a contract as soon as possible which is completely different from those coming from Bahia and Rio de Janeiro (also known as Cariocas) where a much slower process is preferred (Acuff 2008).

Higher positions
Decision making tends to stay within the high executive positions. Becker (2004) mentions that this is because the goal is to attain and remain in power, and delegating decision making or authority diminishes power already retained. Consequently, tailoring your approach to the correct authority will ensure little time is lost. It is important to keep in mind that middle subordinates, who will assuredly be present when negotiations are taking place, do not have any power to influence final decisions. Nevertheless it has been observed that they may be present to aggrandize the authoritative figure, to amalgamate information, to be ready for any decision to be made and to provide technical expertise. With this in mind, it is beneficial if you want the negotiation process to be run smoothly, to maintain a good relationship with these intermediaries, and it is crucial for your success; pairing them up with the foreign negotiation team will strengthen understanding toward technical objectives held (Khen-Group, 2013). Dodge (Thornhill Capital, 2013) also notes that constructing a healthy strong bond will generate unity as consensus building is considered an imperative code of conduct. The reason for this can be found when looking at core values and beliefs held by Brazilians which includes that consensus will build loyalty, trust and togetherness. According to Tradis (Hopkins, 2011), cultures from collectivist societies, such as Brazil, are therefore characterized by cultural tightness and simplicity. Due to this tightness and the closeness of relationships, much of the real communication about important matters may take place implicitly (D'Ambrosio, 2007). With this in mind, Brazilians prefer a polychronic way of negotiating. An example of this is shown when lots of ideas and objectives are covered at once.
As mentioned, primary negotiation style differs according to region although as a whole Brazil would fall into the win-lose perspective, argues Moore and Woodrow (2010). This means that strategic pursuits are made in order to win advantages over the counterpart. Brazilians expect a high level of persuasive communication as little respect is gained with abrupt or cold summary. Brazilians are highly educated tactful deal producers (Moore and Woodrow, 2010). In terms of compromise at the negotiating table, it is important to start with high prices.
Brazilians are known to be fond bargainers, but any sense of invasion or haggling will not be looked upon kindly. Concessions are best used in a strategic manner throughout negotiation, with an expectation to receive one back, again one should always remain calm and collected and watch out for use of deceptive means for “competitive advantage” (Katz, 2005).

Pressure techniques may include making final offers and refusing to change an idea on a particular objective, to name a few. It is useful to also keep in mind that in Brazil status and power can be more valued than any financial gain. Any inclination that one is not trustworthy, which can be showed through opening with best offer or using pressure tactics, will produce signs of unwillingness towards building a long term relationship. Silence instead may be the best way to show rejection of an offer just made. A methodical approach is adapted here and one may find specific information being constantly reviewed.
Verbal communication is vastly used and can be seen (from a non-expressive culture) as over theatrical and emotive. This is because it is believed that if you feel a certain way, you should express it using facial, verbal and body expressions; one should not be negatively affected by this as it is a sign of passion and belief. Opening up to reinforce trust and rapport along with using emotion to communicate one’s goals, having a positive attitude and learning how to manage conflict will be considerable skills when working with a Brazilian professional.

Contracts can often be changed as they are viewed as fluid and open to adjustment. Assuming a fatalistic view of future, in that one cannot predict what may occur Brazilians approach contracts with an understanding that things may not always go to plan and it may be necessary to deal with situations cleverly as they arise. The Jeitinhobrasilero is evidence that reserve ideas and alternate ways of thinking are conducted in comparison to typical Western prospects (Hofstede, 2013). When forming a contract in Brazil it is crucial to have with you a national lawyer and it would be seen as unpleasant if a foreign attorney was present. Under Brazilian law a contract is formed between two people or more and the contract will constitute, extinguish and or regulate legal relationship between associated partners. Legally, contracts must be written in Portuguese and are also governed by civil practices.