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Meet in person. Brazilians like to know the person they are doing business with. Meet in person rather than communicating by email. Use a business liaison, or despachante, to make introductions and help with red tape and making things happen.
Adjust your expectations. Meetings are conducted at a slower pace than North Americans or Europeans might be used to. Do not be impatient. Allow time at the beginning of a meeting for small talk.
Recognize the group. Brazil is a collectivist culture and people expect to be protected by the group. Do not single out individuals for criticism in front of their colleagues.
Aim high. Try to negotiate with the most senior person possible. This may not happen; you may end up in negotiation with middle managers who will make recommendations, but try nonetheless.
Be flexible. Appointments may be changed at the last minute. Try not to get annoyed if this happens.
Be prepared to be interrupted. Brazilians are expressive in conversation and may interrupt in the heat of the moment and the spirit of the discussion. This is not a sign of rudeness.
Take your time. Negotiations often go on for a long time as all the details of a deal are reviewed. Do not show impatience while this is happening.
Dress well. Brazilians are generally well-groomed for business and will take care with their appearance. They will judge others on the same.
Learn Portuguese. A grasp of Portuguese is essential if you plan to manage a team in Brazil.
Be correct. Never, ever refer to Brazil as ‘Latin America’ and do not assume that someone with ‘Latin American’ experience will be the right person to do business in Brazil.
Be punctual. Time is extremely valuable and being late is considered rude.
Understand the Swiss aversion to risk. The business environment is highly regulated and deeply conservative. Back up your proposal with comprehensive data, case studies and a strong track record.
Learn to negotiate the Swiss way. The Swiss have a technique of securing the best deal without appearing aggressive. Stay calm and consistent and always focus on the quality of your offer.
Share your history. The Swiss like to put people in context so be clear about who you have worked with in the past and the connections you have in Switzerland.
Follow the rules. Switzerland is highly regulated and the rules are rarely questioned. Do not attempt to circumvent them and do not question accepted authority.
Be modest. Humility and modesty are considered important virtues. Show these and you will be considered a sincere person.
Keep it serious. Of course, the Swiss have a sense of humor but humor is kept out of business presentations and meetings. Keep the mood serious until you really know your contact well.
Avoid conflict. Being overemotional is a sign that you are out of control.
Understand multiculturalism. Do not forget that Switzerland has many different cultures, with influences from Germany, Italy and France as well as a large international community and a sizable population of immigrant workers.
Appreciate patriotism. The Swiss are deeply patriotic and are rightly proud of their country, its products and achievements. Try to show an appreciation of all of these.
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Ricans (Ticos) may appear passive and laid-back, but there is a fierce national pride in being an unarmed democracy.
The family is at the centre of all social and cultural life and members of the same clan will often live close to one another. These ties carry into the workplace.
Most Ticos are mestizo – a mixture of Indian, Spanish and sometimes black ancestors – but they consider themselves white.
Ticos are inherently conservative and resistant to change. They are not risk-takers.
Some 50,000 North American expatriates live in Costa Rica and influence cultural and market forces.
Costa Ricans value relationship building and harmony so try to avoid “hard-sell” techniques or open confrontation.
Learn to ask questions that will require a specific answer. Anything with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer may not generate results, as Ticos usually say yes.
Network enthusiastically in business. The business community is small and Ticos are great gossips, so your reputation is likely to precede you.
Do careful market research. Costa Rica is a tempting but changeable market.
Never shout at people, especially in public. Ticos respect calm control in others.
Allow time in any business relationship for getting to know one another, which is considered very important by the Serbs.
Serbs are charismatic, passionate and excitable and will respond well to what they see as strong personalities.
Avoid discussing politics or the civil war unless you really know what you’re talking about and are extremely comfortable with your Serb counterpart.
Avoid comparing Serbs to Croatians in any way.
Build in time for business entertaining and be prepared to join in with celebratory drinking which is all part of the relationship building process.
Accept hospitality graciously; Serbs would not dream of splitting the bill and will see you as their guest. Declining hospitality is insulting.
Try to read between the lines in a conversation as Serbs are prone to exaggeration and can be manipulative.
Accept the fact that Serbia is a fairly macho country in which women do not traditionally have strong roles in business. Serbian men may not react well to working for a foreign woman.
Bear in mind the difference in attitudes between generations. Older Serbs were brought up under communism when the work ethic was completely different. Younger Serbs are entrepreneurial and ambitious.
Have patience with bureaucracy, which continues to slow down the pace of business. Never become involved in bribery, regardless of how endemic it is. Always respect your company policy and the laws of your country as well as the laws of Serbia.
To learn more about the other 28 cultures represented at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, go back to the main article on this topic.