In a relationship-oriented business culture like Brazil, business meals and after work activities are of great importance. You may be out almost every night with business partners or colleagues. And several daytime lunches after meetings will also take place. Always keep in mind that in Brazilian business, decisions or negotiations are often prepared in a restaurant or a bar. If things don’t move forward, don’t talk more in the conference room but aim for joint meals and leisure activities. Many problems will be solved when talking in a more informal setting.
In a restaurant
The Brazilian business metropoles offer many choices for business people to go out for a meal. Usually, your Brazilian business partners will order plenty of food for you to try. Keep in mind that Brazilians drink alcohol during meals and even before eating they may meet for a drink first. Make sure that you don’t give the impression of drunkenness during the day, which would potentially be perceived as a weakness in business.
Usually the person who initiated the meal or has chosen the restaurant pays the bill.
A business meal in the evening often leads to a visit to a bar or club. And Brazilians will always find a good reason to celebrate in a joyful manner. If there is music, there will be dancing. Don’t be shy and give it a try, even if you don’t know any samba moves yet! It will be appreciated if you are open, smiling and willing to try new things.
During your second or third stay in Brazil, you can be sure to receive many private invitations. However, if someone does not give you more details, the invitation was not quite as seriously intended.
But if you are invited to dinner at someone’s home or a big party, you should show your appreciation and accept. On the day, don’t arrive on time to give your hosts sufficient time to finish their preparations. However, if you are going to be very late, then better phone and let them know.
Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the occasion and bring some small gifts for all the family, e.g. high quality sweets, or wine and toys for the children. Don’t bring any knives or anything similar, as these symbolically cut the ties of friendship.
Be ready to try lots of local dishes. Make compliments, but be prepared that you will receive a second serving to finish. Don’t help yourself though to any more food, as this would insult your hosts.
There will also be lots of alcohol available, but don’t drink if you drive yourself due to the Brazilian zero alcohol rule.