Brazilian Culture



  • Communication Style: Brazilians can be very expressive and emotive in their communication. At times, they may interrupt others when speaking when overcome by their passion or interest in the conversation topic. Moreover, Brazilians are often not afraid to speak their mind and express what is in their heart.
  • Indirect Communication: Despite their expressive way of verbally communicating, Brazilians generally tend to avoid conflict. In conversation, they will tend to gradually shift the topic towards something they would like to talk about. Thus, Brazilians will not be too direct or immediate in their expression due to the tendency to avoid conflict. Many also pay attention to nonverbal behaviour to develop their impression of one another. Thus, they may often focus more on your body language and your expressiveness rather than intently listen to the content of the conversation.
  • Language Style: The diminutive is a typical characteristic of Brazilian Portuguese. It expresses familiarity and affection towards a thing or person. Most words can be used in their diminutive form by adding the syllable ‘inha’ for females and ‘inho’ for males. For example, the word 'casa' means little house whereby ‘casinha’ is the affectionate way of talking about a little house using the feminine. The diminutive is also used to lighten verbal statements that might otherwise sound too blunt. For example, instead of saying “yes”, someone may say “só um pouquinho” (“only a little bit”).
  • Formality: In Portuguese, different forms of expression indicate the level of formality or politeness. The generic titles of ‘senhor’ (male) and ‘senhora’ (female) are the most formal method of address and are commonly used to address people of seniority (based on age and profession). It is also common to address someone by their professional title followed by their surname (e.g. when addressing a female doctor, ‘Doctora Afonso’). The more informal expression is the pronoun ‘você’. It is typically used among those who are familiar with each other. There may be slight variations in approaches to formality depending on the region. When in doubt, it is best to err on the side of formality.


  • Physical Contact: Brazilians tend to be quite tactile people. The touching of arms and backs is a common and widely accepted practice. Generally, public displays of affection such as holding hands and kissing are acceptable.
  • Personal Space: During a conversation, Brazilians tend to stand very close to one another. This distance may be closer than what is common in Australian culture.
  • Gestures: Brazilians are often verbose in their physical expressions, particularly with gestures. The purpose of gestures is to help emphasise their point of view on a matter. There are hand gestures worth mentioning. The rubbing of hands together refers to the idea that something ‘doesn’t matter’, or it is not a ‘big deal’. Additionally, the use of the ‘thumbs up’ gesture signals approval. Do not use the ‘OK’ hand gesture; it is considered to be obscene and rude.
  • Sound: Some sounds created by the body also communicate particular ideas. For example, as a way to indicate disapproval or disagreement, a Brazilian may click their tongue whilst shaking their head. Another example is the clicking of one’s finger, which is different from what is typically thought of in Australia as snapping one’s fingers. The gesture of clicking one’s fingers is repeated several times whilst talking about something that lasted a long time, or took place a long time ago.
  • Listening Habits: Given the exuberance of their expression, the listening habits of Brazilians may seem erratic. There is a tendency to interrupt one another, as each person attempts to express their viewpoint.

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