Business meals are part of the routine of many people in Brazil. Find in this article what are the rules to have a good business meeting without worries about what is wrong and what is right in terms of eating. This article will teach you how to do well in a business meal in Brazil.
It is really common to see people with many questions about what is correct to do during business meals, being them lunch or dinner. Who invites, what to drink, what to order and also who pays the bill? Common doubts that many people are afraid to ask.
In Brazil, there is some etiquette, brought from France, and this etiquette must be followed when you are in a business lunch or even in having a regular meal in a restaurant, as the way you place your cutlery indicates if you need to change your plate or if you are satisfied.
When travelling to a different country, it is expected that you follow the country’s rules, even when they are about meals. Brazilians adopted these French rules to show social position and education, so when being in the country, it is important to be aware about that.
Nowadays these rules are more flexible, so we will list only the most necessary ones that Brazilian people do not exempt.
When you are in a restaurant it is important to know how to signalize to the waiter when you need another plate or when he can remove it.
1. When you are eating something that exempt the knife you have to let it supported in the upper right of the plate
2. When you have finished eating, the knife should be on the right side of the fork, both placed together anywhere in the red highlighted area in the image below
3. When you need a new plate you have to position your cutlery on the table, at the right side of the plate
The napkin is not difficult to use. When the food is about to be served, place the napkin on your lap, never on your chest . Some restaurants, as Italian ones, provide special napkins to be positioned on the chest, but if the restaurant does not provide it, put it on your lap.
When going to the toilet, remember to place your napkin on the table, at the left side of the plate.
What are the “rodízios” in Brazil?
In Brazil there is a concept called “rodízio”, more commonly present at restaurants specialized in barbecue or Japanese food.
At barbecue restaurants, the waiter brings the meat variety and you choose the one you prefer. You pay a fixed price and eat as much as you want.
Normally there is a buffet table with some salad a options, where you serve yourself.
At Japanese restaurants the “rodízio” is a bit different. You can order as much food as you want paying a fix price . Normally the variety of foods is really good.
The rule of “rodízio” is always to eat as much as you want, with a waiter serving you, without worrying about the costs. Of course, there are very expensive “rodízio” restaurants too.
Business meal rules
After introducing you to the very basic rules of having any meal in Brazil, now it is time to introduce you to the business meals rules in the country.
1. Who should invite for a business meal?
This doubt is more common than many people would expect. Normally the person who intends to close the deal with the other is the one who should invite, but there is no problem if the person who is negotiating with the company offering the business invites the other.
2. Who pays the bill?
Paying the bill is the major doubt regarding business lunches and dinners. Definitely who should pay the bill is the person who invited the other. If the person who invited is women, there is no difference in this rule; this would be a business meeting, not a date.
3. Where to go?
Remember that you are representing you company and the importance your invited has to it. Choosing the restaurant must be, in first place, somewhere near to the person who was invited. Do not choose a very expensive or a very cheap restaurant, but a place confortable to have a good conversation without noise around.
4. Never be late
You should have seen an article about the difficulty of Brazilians of being on time. Ok, you should not be late, even though you are in Brazil. For sure Brazilian business people know how impolite it is to belate when meeting a foreign.
5. Make restaurant reservation
You and the person you are going to meet have other commitments, so you don’t want to waste time waiting to eat in a restaurant. It can make the meeting uncomfortable due to worries about time.
6. What to order?
It is important to pay attention about what you will eat. Ask the person you invited if he or she has any food restriction and order easy things to eat. If the food takes much attention, the main point of the business meeting will not be achieved.
7. What to drink?
If you are having lunch, never drink alcohol. If you are in a business dinner and there is no way to avoid a drink, never pass the first glass. Remember you are meeting this person for business reasons and the alcohol can make you lose focus.
8. What should you never talk about?
You should never talk about sex, politics, religion or sports. This kind of conversation tends to be delicate and can annoy the person you are trying to negotiate with. Never talk about business directly either. Wait until the main course to start negotiating.
Always be aware about the time. Your business meal should never take more than two hours counting the whole process. As mentioned before, you and the other person you are going to meet have other things to do.
10. Phone and laptop
If somebody calls you during the meeting, only answer if it is very urgent. It is very boring when the subject starts to be interrupted by phone calls. The laptop can be used if it is necessary to show something to the person you are meeting, otherwise, keep it shut down.
This guide will help you having good meetings in Brazil, but if you have any doubt about what to do when in a business meal in Brazil, please, send us a comment in our comment box below!