Brazil 101

I learned so much about navigating life in Brazil in the past months and I have been getting various requests about sharing this information. I therefore decided to become more structured and this is where I start

LANGUAGE SKILLS

Brazilians transliterate A LOT and they have hard time believing that not all words that sound like English are actually in English or have the same meaning. Here are some common mistakes Brazilians make when they speak English. I will continue to update as I encounter more of those.

Portuguese English ->English

  • Anticipate = Reschedule (or move) to an earlier time, opposite of postpone (“We need to anticipate the meeting”)
  • Potentialize = leverage / enhance (“We will potentialize the current success to develop the business in the future”)
  • Curiosity = An interesting fact (“Here is a curiosity about the life of Van Gogh”)
  • Dynamic = Format / operating mode (ex: “What should be the dynamic of the workshop?”)
  • And you? = What about you? / What are you doing? Where were you? etc (“[you encounter someone in the bathroom at the office, and you just discussed a subject] and you? response: [your opinion/action/story about the subject])
  • Pass cream / makeup = put on makeup / cream
  • Resume (pronounced: rezoom) = summary (“I will send you a resume of the meeting discussion”)
  • Hint = Tip (“Please give me some hints about good restaurants”)
  • I have 20 years old / I have 20 years = I am 20 years old
  • Doubt = question (What is your doubt? / Any doubts?”)
  • Musics = songs (“Do you like Lady Gaga’s musics?”)
  • Could be = I am up for it (“Do you want to go to the cinema? Could be.”)
  • Marriage = wedding (“I am going to my friend’s marriage.”)

KEY PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS FOR SURVIVAL IN BRAZIL:

  • Patience – things take much longer as a rule
  • Open-mindedness – many things are different and embracing difference vs. trying to change things is key to happiness
  • Outside of the box thinking and creativity – challenges are numerous and solutions are generally obvious
  • Ability to deal with uncertainty, flexibility and being proactive– along the lines of the above plus many times things won’t happen the way you plan and one needs to always think of backup plans and other approaches anticipating potential challenges to the original approach
  • Interpersonal skills in an environment with high uncertainty one has to rely on relationships to get information and achieve results both in personal and professional lives. Building relationships is key to survival.
  • Language Skills – barely anyone speaks English. Portuguese will be your best friend.

WORKING IN BRAZIL

There are many aspects of Brazilian corporate culture that make it very difficult for foreigners to adapt. Here are some tips I gathered along the way:

 

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE?

Read my posts about Rio – I talk about the big things and the small things.

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