Is there a place for cross-cultural communication training in this South American paradise?
Brazil is known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people, and the excitement of the holiday festival known as Carnival. Is there a place for training in this South American paradise? The answer is a resounding yes! Brazil has a population of over 185 million. It is the largest country in South America, and the fifth largest country in the world. A very young country with a majority of its population under 21, there is a critical need to educate and train its citizens. Many global organizations have become attracted to this country. A growing middle class has an interest in a variety of goods and services. Over the last decade inflation has been tamed which has created a very positive business environment. The Brazilian leadership has encouraged foreign investment, and as a result many foreign companies manufacture items such as automobiles, heavy metals, and consumer products, which are sold to the local market as well as exported abroad. All these firms need a well trained workforce for the development of their companies and the development of the Brazilian economy.
What does cross-cultural training look like in Brazil?
How can you build a successful training organization in Brazil? You first need to know that training costs run from typical American prices to 10% less then what you would usually invest. Program participants expect the trainer to display leadership and expertise in the classroom. Classroom communication needs to be trainer directed. The trainer should be well organized and enthusiastic. If the trainer does not seem to be enjoying the training experience participants will feel disrespected. Building personal relationships is key in Brazilian culture. Talk about yourself. The program participants want to know who you are, and what experiences and background you bring to the training room. Without this connection little learning will take place, and satisfaction, and retention of the program content will be poor. Don’t rush into course content until you are sure that the participants are connecting with you. Be sure that the class environment supports your needs and those of the participants. Participants want the trainer to provide them with structure and organization. The culture can be formal so always start by addressing your trainees by their last names. If they would prefer you call them by their first names, they will let you know. Speak clearly and avoid slang and idioms. Many Brazilians do not speak English well or at all. Keep this in mind as you prepare your programs. Always include visuals, in handouts, or in your computer presentations. Those in higher positions are well respected. When in doubt always be more formal. Popular training methods include lectures and small group work. Although small group work can be successful, having participants interact in pairs can serve as another excellent way for them to retain and use new material. Popular topics to present in Brazil include leadership, American business ideas, supervisory skills, creative problem solving, motivation, and customer service.
What are the intercultural differences which are evident between the United States and Brazil?
The intercultural differences which are evident between the United States and Brazil include how time, space, and power are treated. Time is much more event oriented in Brazil. In terms of personal space, program participants who approach you during class activities may stand much closer to you then you are used to. Power is accepted and respected. Those who have high status positions are not questioned even when the individual has doubts about a stance taken. The trainer may experience challenges when participants are discussing issues in groups. What may seem like fighting or arguing to the trainer is normal communication behavior in Brazil. Brazil will continue to be a country of great interest to your organization. Being aware of the following cross-cultural factors will allow you to experience training success.
Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for Global Business Success and cross-cultural management.