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Business Etiquettes in Portugal


The Portuguese prefer to do business with those they feel comfortable with, which means those that they know they can trust. Therefore, it is advisable to have a mutual contact provide the initial introduction. Expect to invest a great deal of time developing the relationship.

The Portuguese prefer face-to-face meetings rather than written or telephonic communication, which are seen as too impersonal. Relationships are built with people, not companies. If you change representatives or people on a negotiating team once negotiations have started, the relationship-building process will have to begin again. It is important that you treat business colleagues with respect and not do anything to embarrass them.

Communication is formal and relies on strict rules of protocol. If your Portuguese business colleagues have questions or want clarification during a presentation, they will wait until you have finished speaking and not interrupt. Although honest, the Portuguese do not volunteer information unless solicited, especially if remaining silent is in their best interest.

Although the Portuguese are not emotive speakers and do not use hand gestures, they may be demonstrative when greeting friends. If you tend to use hand gestures while speaking, you may wish to moderate your behaviour since it may incorrectly be viewed as overtly demonstrative.

Portugal is a hierarchical culture that respects age and position. Defer to those in senior positions and maintain a sense of formality in written communication.

Do not be concerned if your Portuguese colleagues fail to follow through on promises. They have a more relaxed attitude towards time and do not see deadlines as crucial as people from many other cultures do. They do not appreciate direct criticism, even if you consider it to be justified.

Business Meeting Etiquette

• Appointments are mandatory and should be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance.

• Reconfirm the meeting a few days in advance.

• Initial correspondence should be written in Portuguese.

• Since most Portuguese take vacation during August, it is not an ideal time to try to schedule meetings. It is also best not to plan meetings during the week between Christmas and New Year.

• You should arrive on time for meetings.

• In many circles, 5 minutes late is considered on time.

• Punctuality displays respect for the person you are meeting. If you are kept waiting, it is important that you not appear irritated.

• People from the north are generally more punctual than those in the south.

• A fair amount of getting-to-know-you conversation may take place before the business conversation begins.

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