My recent experience in Brazil and trying to become a customer to one of the local credit card processors has been an eye opener with cultural differences. I was given the task to create a credit card merchant account in Brazilian real currency. I was use to creating accounts in the U.S. and Europe and for international currencies it normally took six to eight weeks to get an account active. The Brazil process was completely different. I eventually learned that “doing business and negotiating in Brazil is more along the lines of ‘take your time’” (Moran, Abramson, Moran, 2014, 353) behavior. The Brazil process took approximately six months. Why? Two reasons: we had to create a personal relationship with the vendor and educate ourselves on how to negotiate. We learned quickly that we had to figure out how to communication and understand their negotiating qualities.
In order to be successful with negotiations, we first had to learn how to communicate with Brazilians. When meeting with a vendor located in Brazil, we noticed we were having a difficult time understanding what was being communicated to us. I learned that their “accents and even the meaning given to words” (Moran, Abramson, Moran, 2014, 350) were completely different from what we understood. My team, located in the United States, took another step and we asked one of the team members in Brazil to join the calls with us. Once we did this, it really helped us understand the differences of communication between the two groups.
After getting our communication squared aware, we learned that negotiating is handled completely different from the United States (and even other areas of the world). We first learned that everything was negotiable.
“If they want to negotiate with you, Brazilians will not see any challenge as completely insurmountable. In fact, they can be quite creative in finding solutions. At the same time, if they do not want to conduct business with you, they will be unable to see even the simplest solution” (Culturewizard by RW3, 2017).
One of the negotiations we were working through was the volumes we agreed upon. For some reason if we lowered our volumes, we would not receive direct customer service (we would have to reach out to a general inquiry department). This was a point that we stressed with the Brazilian vendor however they couldn’t get past the point that we wanted to lower our volumes. This became a challenge on our end. Another point we learned was that we were negotiating with the wrong people. Every time we had another counter offer they advised they had to get back to us. We asked if we could work with their manager however we could not get to that person.
Throughout this project I learned how important it is to make sure you provide great communication and learn about cultural differences. For example, learning that Brazilians “pay attention to someone’s eloquence and ability to present their position with flair” (Culturewizard by RW3, 2017) is an interesting fact to learn when you are trying to negotiate. Take the extra time to educate yourself about the other half you will be working with directly.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2017, February 27). CIA’s World Factbook: Latin America: Brazil. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/print_br.html
Culturewizard by RW3. (2017, February 27). Country Profile: Brazil. Retrieve on February 27, 2017 from https://trimble.culturewizard.com/DesktopModules/RW3Modules/CP2014/PrintView.aspx?c=076&p=260&u=148757
Moran, Robert T., Ph.D., Abramson, Neil Remington, Ph.D., Moran, Sarah V., MA. (2014). Managing Cultural Differences (9th ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. p. 350, 353
Pennsylvania State University (2017, February 3). Leadership in a Global Context. OLEAD 410. Online course lesson 5. Penn State World Campus. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved January 3, 2017 from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/canvas/sp17/21711–28692/content/07_lesson/printlesson.html
Pennsylvania State University. (2017, February 21). Leadership in a Global Context. OLEAD 410. Online course lesson 8. Penn State World Campus. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved on February 21, 2017 from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/canvas/sp17/21711–28692/content/08_lesson/printlesson.html