Brazilians| Why we are the way we are…

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Hello and welcome to Denmark Brazil. Today we are going to explain why Brazilians are the way they are. In order to have a better clue of this post and deepen your knowledge about Brazil, we suggest that you read our first post where we provide a brief historical introduction about Brazil, more specifically on how history has shaped and influenced Brazilian culture and Brazil´s business environment.

In this post I will give you:

  • An overview of how history has shaped the mindset of people in Brazil

Introduction

History plays an important role in what we are today. What happened yesterday will surely have a huge impact on our life today. A society´s mindset is shaped by years and years of history and that is no different for Brazilian people and how they think and act.

Brazil, as we mentioned in our last post  was an exploitation colony of Portugal for a good part of our history. Since the Portuguese colonizers were more “soft” than the Spaniards, who colonized the rest of South America and because the Portuguese adopted a different strategy to colonize the Indians, Brazilians developed very different traits when compared to our fellow South American neighbors.

The Arrival of the Portuguese settlers and it’s consequences…

When the first Portuguese settlers arrived in Brazil, they discovered that Brazil was occupied by thousands of different native tribes. The Portuguese observed that almost all the Indian tribes were fascinated by trinkets like combs, mirrors and other things which they had never seen the likes of before. Using the Indians´ fascination with these objects to their advantage, the Portuguese were able to peacefully exploit Indian labor. Consequently, this tactic also allowed the Portuguese to exploit resources such as the “Pau Brasil” (Brazilian Wood) as we mentioned in our last post. However, the Portuguese knew that this approach would be short lived and that they would need to find other methods of keeping the Indians´ attention.  Recognizing this, they started to integrate themselves into the Indian´s marriage system (which the “whites” did not recognize as marriage).The Portuguese were eager to take advantage of this fact and since they rarely brought women to Brazil it didn´t take long for a new generation of mixed bloods to appear, this became known as a phenomenon called “Cunhadismo”. The Indian woman became “the breeding matrix of Brazilian People” marking a cornerstone in Brazilian history.

The phenomenon “Cunhadismo” started to spread throughout the colony. “Cunhadismo” translated from Portuguese means brother in law. ‘Cunhadismo” was well received by Indian tribes throughout Brazil and these foreign strangers became part of the tribal family. The Indians would offer an Indian woman to a Portuguese man as a wife. Once they accepted they were part of the community and had a strong bond with all other Indians of the tribe. Their mixed blood children started to generate a new breed of Brazilians.

How the mindset of Brazilians began to be shaped

This new breed often times considered bastards by Portuguese men had to learn how to deal with cultural conflicts from both sides. This generation of “bastards” had a huge responsibility because they were the mediators of any cultural differences. In fact, some historians argue that this is probably the pivoting point for why Brazilian´s are internationally known for their cordiality and hospitality. These colonization tactics were different from the Spanish, so unlike our South American neighbors ( in general), Brazilians are famous for being easy going, informal, in favor of conciliation, tolerant and cordial. People in general will avoid conflicts and confrontations.

Why this historical background is important?

If your coming to do business in Brazil, you will probably notice in your business meetings that business will be one of the last topics Brazilians will talk about. Generally they will ask something related to your trip, to your staying, or the football match that happened in the previous evening, and you should know beforehand that this is used as a warm up.

Differently than Scandinavians, Brazilians are less straight to the point. It doesn’t mean that Brazilian business men are not serious or, even worse, that they don’t take you or your topic seriously. In fact, Brazilian business men will be quite serious about the business topics, however if the environment surrounding the conversation can be “lighter” before engaging in a business conversation, Brazilians will appreciate a lot more the meeting, and your chances of success from a cultural perspective, can surely be higher.

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Carlos Monteiro is a Brazilian citizen, graduated in Business Administration by the Catholic University of São Paulo. He lives in Odense, Denmark with his Danish Wife, Cathrine, and their half Danish /Brazilian daughter Ines Marie. You are very welcome to be in contact him at any time.

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