The first communication difficulty often encountered when doing business in Portugal relates to the use of names and titles.
Portuguese names are often extremely long and complex and proceeded by an equally bewildering array of official titles. The best advice is to stick to simple Mr or Mrs before a name. It is unusual for even long-standing colleagues to use first name terms in a business environment, so it is best to stick to family names until specifically invited not to.
If you have a title such as Doctor or Professor you will be accorded significant respect and it is a good idea to make sure that all titles and qualifications appear on your business card.
Despite what people often think about Latin cultures it is never a good idea to shout or lose your temper in business situations in Portugal. This approach may well be viewed as an indication of weakness and could possibly put you in a weaker position.
There is a desire to avoid direct confrontations and a definite desire to please. This can result in people saying what they think you want to hear rather than what they are actually thinking. Whenever you feel that you have an agreement, try to get it formalized in writing. If it proves difficult to get any back-up documentation, then a degree of scepticism is in order.
As Portugal is very much a relationship-oriented business culture, small talk and general conversation figure highly in business dealings. Good general topics of conversation would include Portugal, its food and regions, football and general business-oriented issues of interest.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Portugal only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.