THE PORTUGUESE CULTURAL BACKGROUND
Portuguese are traditional and conservative. They are a people who retain a sense of formality when dealing with each other, which is displayed in the form of extreme politeness. Society and business are highly stratified and vertically structured. People respect authority and look to those above them for guidance and decision-making. Rank is important, and those senior to you in rank must always be treated with respect. In business, power and authority generally reside with one person who makes decisions with little concern about consensus building with their subordinates.
Gift Giving Etiquette
. If you are invited to a Portuguese home for dinner, bring flowers, good quality chocolates or candy to the hostess.
. Do not bring wine unless you know which wines your hosts prefer.
. Do not give 13 flowers. The number is considered unlucky.
. Do not give lilies or chrysanthemums since they are used at funerals.
. Do not give red flowers since red is the symbol of the revolution.
. Gifts are usually opened when received.
Business Meeting Etiquette
. Appointments are mandatory and should be made 1 to 2 weeks 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.
. Agendas serve as starting points for discussions; they do not serve as schedules.
. Maintain eye contact when speaking.
. Meetings may be interrupted.
. Do not remove your jacket unless your business associates do so.
Building Relationships & Communication
. The Portuguese prefer to do business with those they feel comfortable with, which means those that they know they can trust.
. 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.
. Communication is formal and relies on strict rules of protocol.