Business Etiquette in Portugal
Portugal is an active member of many international organizations, including NATO and the European Union (EU). Since 1986 when it joined the EU, Portugal has been working hard to increase their financial and telecommunication markets. In order to gain respect in Portugal, status is very important. Things like renting expensive vehicles, staying in fancy hotels and referring to yourself by your title when introducing yourself will impress your host.
In Portugal, great care is taken with appearance. Casual attire is not appropriate in work environment. They are very conscious of the quality of clothing. Clothes represent the social standing of the wearer, so be sure to dress accordingly. Short-sleeved shirts are considered inappropriate for the business setting. Jackets and ties are not optional, however a jacket may be removed if the host indicates that it is acceptable by removing his first.
The national language is Portuguese. English is commonly spoken as well, making a translator unnecessary in most cases. Make sure to speak clearly without raising your volume. It may be difficult to pronounce Portuguese names correctly, but making the effort is always appreciated.
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Polite small talk is welcome as family, soccer, and food are examples of welcomed topics. Sports other than soccer, politics and religion are topics that are better off left alone.
Business meetings are held in a more informal manner in Portugal than in the United States. Arriving before your meeting is considered rude, so be prepared to arrive a few minutes after the scheduled time and then expect to wait at least fifteen more minutes for your host. Business meetings will always start with social conversation. During meetings held over meals, relax and discuss your family or other unrelated topics until close to the end of the meal, when discussing business is considered acceptable.
Timing and Interruptions
Be prepared with an agenda, as your host is unlikely to have created one. Don’t get frustrated by frequent interruptions and tangents. Planning is likely to be poor, deadlines ignored, and teamwork minimal, so be patient. Keeping the lines of communication open will be your responsibility. You should not take any verbal agreements as actual promises until you are able to get it in writing.
Working with Portuguese hosts may seem terribly slow and frustrating, but if you are patient with the cultural differences, you will create enduring business relationships.
Although Portuguese in Portugal and Brazil are very similar, there are still differences between the two dialects. Today, Brazilian Portuguese is the dominant variety due to the larger size of the Brazilian economy. However, Portugueses will rather read in European Portuguese when given the choice.