France/Brazil: Two different professional approaches

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Source: Paulabarrozo

Version française

We are tempted to think that there is a professional relationship in France and Brazil due to the common Latin culture they share. However, one factor to take into account is the strong cultural and professional melting pot existing in Brazil. The Brazilian culture has been shaped by centuries of colonization and immigration waves which have brought social values from different parts of the world.  Therefore, modern-day Brazil consists of many indigenous people, as well as people from African or European descent. This ethnical diversity has built the Brazilian nation as we know it, as well as a professional sphere mixing flexibility and bureaucracy.

It is always tricky to generalize cultural diversity but we can usually identify certain patterns. In terms of organization, Brazilians tend to favor flexibility at work. They adopt an organic approach, which is a recurring trend in countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Moreover, as the Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstede tries to explain it, Brazilians tend to worry less, adapt more easily and show initiative. French, on the other hand, have a more rigid approach when it comes to work, in an attempt to exert more control.

It should also be noted that French pay more attention to the clock and to deadlines. While it might be a common sight to see a French person running after a bus to get to work, it would certainly be odd in Brazil. This stress-less attitude can sometimes be confusing to French people. However, it shouldn’t be viewed as a lack of respect or commitment. The famous Brazilian expression “estou chegando”, which literally translates to “I am coming” is therefore very ambiguous depending on the referential. For a French, it implies that one would arrive in a few minutes whereas for a Brazilian, it generally means that the person is on their way and will arrive in about an hour depending on traffic density or the distance they have to travel.

Another big difference between the two cultures is that French clearly dissociate personal life and professional life. On the other hand, the Brazilian feels comfortable to talk about various topics at work, including topics from their personal life. They enjoy human interactions and likes to share his feelings with his relatives, or his colleagues at work. This attitude would probably bother the average European, who would prefer to stay focused on the task at hand. That being said, the Brazilian approach builds a more convivial working environment and encourages human interactions.

Brazilians also rarely say no. They will always convince people that they will try their best even if they are in doubt. Therefore, they tend to be extremely versatile and resourceful. The fact that they rarely say no is most likely due to the meaning it has in their culture, which would be agressivity. Therefore, a Brazilian manager who would like updates regarding a deadline would favor open questions like “When do you think it will be ready?” to “Do you think it will be ready by Friday?”

Therefore, Brazilians tend to show more respect to the hierarchy. They will never go against their boss and will instead display a passive attitude. The Brazilian manager will always try to compromise and will have difficulties to criticize or be bossy. On the other hand, French have been moulded by a culture which favors critical thinking. Therefore they will never hesitate to face their boss or to refuse certain tasks.

It is extremely important not to generalize or draw hasty conclusions. The French might think that the Brazilian is a happy-go-lucky person who enjoys football and samba, and is unreliable at work. However, this is nowhere near the truth (Even if Brazilians are particularly good at football) and it should be noted that Brazil is one of the largest emerging and developing economies. It is also interesting to know that the legal framework in Brazil specifies 44 working hours weekly and they could think that French people are always on holidays.

Sources : Les Echos, Culture’s consequences, mylittlebrasil

3 réflexions sur “France/Brazil: Two different professional approaches

  1. Pingback: France/Brésil: une approche professionnelle différente | Si j'étais DRH...

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