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Understanding and Utilizing Portuguese Business Etiquette

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 9 January 2024

5mins read

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Whether you're trying to start a business, bootstrap your startup, or looking to find and retain talent in Portugal, one thing's for sure: you're going to have to deal with people!

Business etiquette is fundamental for maintaining a good relationship with partners, employers, and employees, but it varies extensively from country to country. 

In this article, we will be exploring the many particular ways Portuguese business etiquette works, helping you build better professional relationships in the country.

Greetings and Introductions

When greeting someone in a business setting in Portugal, it is important to maintain a professional and polite demeanor. Handshakes are the most common form of greeting, and it is customary to greet each person individually. Maintaining eye contact during the greeting is seen as a sign of respect. 

It is also common to exchange business cards during introductions, so it is a good idea to have them readily available. Remember to use formal titles and last names when addressing others. 

In Portugal, personal connections are highly valued, so taking the time to establish a rapport and getting better at small talk can go a long way in building relationships.

Communication Style

In Portuguese work culture, communication is generally direct and straightforward. Honesty is highly valued, so it is important to be clear and transparent in your communication. 

Non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and gestures are also important and can convey additional meaning. It is common for interruptions to occur during conversations, so be prepared for this. 

Additionally, active listening is highly appreciated and shows respect for the speaker, so it's important to learn how to become a better listener.

Dress Code

When it comes to dress code in Portuguese business settings, it is important to dress professionally and conservatively. Men typically wear suits and ties, while women opt for elegant and modest attire. It is advisable to avoid flashy or revealing clothing, as it may be seen as inappropriate. 

Portuguese business culture values a neat and polished appearance, so wearing clean and well-maintained clothing is essential to make a positive impression. 

Remember, dressing appropriately shows respect and professionalism, which are highly regarded in Portuguese business etiquette!

In sum:

  • Dress professionally and conservatively;
  • Avoid flashy or revealing clothing;
  • Maintain a neat and polished appearance.
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Importance of Personal Connections

Building personal connections is crucial in Portuguese business culture. Networking and establishing strong relationships with colleagues and clients can greatly contribute to the success of your business endeavors. After all, it is common for Portuguese professionals to prioritize personal connections over formal qualifications or experience, which is one of the consequences of the importance of networking in Portuguese business circles.

Trust and mutual understanding are highly valued, and it is important to invest time and effort in getting to know your business partners on a personal level. This can be done through socializing outside of work, such as inviting them for a meal or attending cultural events together. 

In Portugal, business is often conducted based on personal relationships, so building and maintaining these connections is essential to thrive in the local business environment.

In sum:

  • Building personal connections is crucial in Portuguese business culture;
  • Networking and establishing strong relationships contribute to business success;
  • Trust and mutual understanding are highly valued;
  • Socializing outside of work is important to build personal connections;
  • Business in Portugal is often conducted based on personal relationships.

Business Meetings and Negotiations

When it comes to business meetings and negotiations in Portugal, it is important to approach them with respect and professionalism. Prepare for meetings by researching the company and individuals you will be meeting with, especially if you're meeting with investors.

Arrive on time and be well-prepared with any necessary materials. During the meeting, listen actively, engage in thoughtful conversation, and avoid interrupting others during discussions. Maintain eye contact and use appropriate body language to show your interest and understanding. 

It is also important to follow up after the meeting with a thank-you note or email. Building strong relationships is key in Portuguese business culture, so take the time to foster connections and show genuine interest in the people you are working with, before and after meetings.

Gift Giving and Hospitality

In Portuguese business culture, gift-giving and hospitality play an important role in building relationships. Gifts are typically exchanged during special occasions or when visiting someone's home. It is customary to bring a gift that represents your country or region. When receiving a gift, it is polite to express gratitude and open it in the presence of the giver. 

Hospitality is highly valued too, and it is common for business meetings to take place over a meal or coffee. Portuguese people appreciate good food and conversation, so taking the time to enjoy a meal together can help strengthen business relationships. 

Finally, it is important to show respect for the host by arriving on time and dressing appropriately. Overall, gift-giving and hospitality are seen as gestures of goodwill and can contribute to successful business interactions in Portugal.

Gift Giving

  • Bring a gift that represents your country or region;
  • Express gratitude and open gifts in the presence of the giver.

Hospitality

  • Business meetings often take place over a meal or coffee;
  • Show respect by arriving on time and dressing appropriately.

Punctuality and Time Management

In Portuguese business culture, punctuality is highly valued. Being late can be seen as disrespectful and may negatively impact your professional reputation. It is also common for meetings to start and end on time, so it is important to plan accordingly.

It is considered polite to confirm appointments in advance and to notify the other party if you are running late. Effective time management is therefore key in Portuguese business etiquette, as it demonstrates your professionalism and respect for others' time. Remember: time is money in the business world!

Conclusion

Good business isn't just about the numbers; it's, above all, about the people. If you're just starting a business in Portugal, you should be aware of the particularities of Portuguese business etiquette and work culture. 

By respecting the unwritten rules of Portuguese business, you can increase your chances of finding success in the country.

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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