Language was a major export of countries that once colonized territories around the globe. Over the centuries, many of those territories became independent nations that embraced those languages.
How business is conducted globally has changed for the better, but language remains at the center of partner and customer engagement.
Portuguese is a dramatic example, and this week occupies the #9 language spot in our countdown series highlighting the world’s ten most powerful languages.
Portugal now has 10.8 million speakers, while its former colony Brazil has grown into one of the world’s major nations. Its population numbers more than 205 million people, 99% of whom speak Portuguese. Of the 250 million speakers of Portuguese worldwide, 86% are native speakers.
According to the United Nations, the objectives of the Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries include “the implementation of projects that promote and disseminate the Portuguese language.” For businesses engaged in Brazil, where only 3% of the population is estimated to speak English fluently, overcoming this language barrier is critical.
A good start is to power up your first impression when you meet business colleagues in Brazil. Here are three introductory phrases and business protocol tips that can help you do that.
- In Brazil, sustained eye contact indicates your sincerity, and pairs nicely with the phrase “É um prazer conhecê-lo”, or “it is nice to meet you.”
- When meeting a group of people, shake everyone’s hand in the group, in descending order of rank if you know that. To introduce yourself in Portuguese, you can simply say “Olá, meu nome é _______.”, or “Hello, my name is _______.”
- Building on the previous phrase is the short question “Qual é o seu nome?”, or “What is your name?” Using the courtesy titles of a man (Senhor) or a woman (Senhora), is helpful here.
Does language really open business doors? Language creates several opportunities, including communication that gives you the ability to engage in dialogue. An initial encounter is the starting point for further meaningful conversations that can lead to the business agreements you seek.
Making a strong first impression not only jumpstarts new business relationships, but also helps to sustain them for the benefit of you and your customer.
Let’s meet here again next week to learn more about the #8 language on our list of the world’s most powerful languages.
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