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7 Brazilian Habits that Drive Americans Crazy

Updated on February 10, 2015
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Lidi is a Brazilian expat living in the U.S for 10 years. She works as regional manager at BRIC Language Systems an online language program

I have been thinking about this post for some time. I wanted to write about annoying Brazilian habits from the perspective of an American. Obviously being a Brazilian made this task a bit harder- (even though I’ve been living in the U.S for 10 years, my “brazilianity” remains very present and I still share some of the habits listed below). Therefore, I decided to consult some American friends that live or lived in Brazil who could tell me what Brazilian habits they dislike or find unnecessary, and we came up with 7 annoying Brazilian habits.

I am aware that this list doesn’t reflect the behavior of every Brazilian, and that wasn’t my intention. The idea was to point out in an unpretentious way some characteristics that are present in the Brazilian culture and how they contribute to the image Brazilians portray abroad.

Difficulty in Saying No

Brazilians – including myself- have a hard time turning down invitations and constantly find lots of (creative) excuses instead, because saying a straight No would seem impolite. Americans seem not to have such a hard time declining invitations, or trying to find some unrealistic excuses that could be a good fit for a drama movie script. Sometimes a “No” is better and more sincere.

Brazilians have hard time saying No
Brazilians have hard time saying No

Brazilians worry too much about other's opinion

A classic example is if you want to have a picnic at the beach in Brazil you would be considered farofeiro, which is a pejorative stereotype of inconsiderate people bringing lots of food to the beach. In other countries, people don’t care about what image they will project if they eat their ham and cheese sandwich on the beach. So embrace your inner farofeiro! But have good manners please.

This kind of "farofeiro" isn't bad!
This kind of "farofeiro" isn't bad!

Impossibility of Going Straight to the Point

I confess that I am still working on this one, but can see some improvements!
If it’s a touchy subject that requires a careful approach, Brazilians will talk in circles, avoiding the core of the issue. In other situations they tend to talk about million things in the same conversation, constantly interrupting each other and losing track of the main subject. “What were we saying?” pops up a lot during a conversation among Brazilians.

talking in circles
talking in circles

The Underdog Complex, or the “Mutt Complex”

Expression that became popular by the famous Brazilian writer Nelson Rodrigues in the 50’s. It means complex of inferiority, and Brazilians still show signs of it. It may have to do partially with Brazil’s colonial heritage, but the fact is that I frequently hear Brazilians when criticizing the economy diminishing the country as a whole. It’s that feeling everybody has once in a while, that the grass is greener on the other side. Which is not always true.

the mutt complex
the mutt complex

Difficulty in Keeping Commitments

Brazilians have a different way to deal with promises, commitment and deadlines, an American friend told me recently. This is a complex matter, and the difference sometimes means lack of commitment or a different interpretation of the concept. When an American or European says he will meet you at 5 PM, he will be there at 5 PM, but not Brazilians. They could tell you “let’s get together next week” then completely forget about it. It doesn't mean they don’t want to see you; it is that their commitment wasn't strong enough, and “next week” doesn't necessarily mean next week, it’s more generic, it could be next month or soon. My fellow Brazilians, this lack of commitment is not well regarded by Americans or anybody from any other country, so it’s time to change.

difficulty in keeping commitment
difficulty in keeping commitment

Line Cutting

Yeah, we all know this one is bad, and some Brazilians will deny it, but the fact is that we all (not only Brazilians) probably have done it at some point of our lives, and some people still have this rude habit. Brazilians friends that like to cut in the movie line: It’s not cool.

line cutting
line cutting

30 min Goodbye Ritual

This is one trait I can’t get rid of (actually don’t want to) but I do recognize it can drive many people crazy. Have you seen Brazilians saying goodbye? There are kisses, hugs and tchau – bye, and then some more talking, followed by a second round of the same ritual, which by now is getting close to 30 minutes, and nobody is leaving yet, besides your American friend that has lost his patience, right John? Lol...

Brazilian Goodbye Ritual
Brazilian Goodbye Ritual

BRIC Language Blog

Hope you enjoyed my hub, and don't forget to check our blog for some very interesting post about Brazil's culture and language tips!

http://briclanguage.com/category/blog/

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  • C.V.Rajan profile image

    Disillusioned 2 years ago from Kerala, India

    Interesting. I found Indians like me sharing some of Brazilian traits!

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    greeneyedblondie 2 years ago

    Yeah, I know lots of cultures think the word "no" is insulting and rude to say, so instead they said, "Maybe not," or "I don't think I can make it," rather than, "No."

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    DINA 2 years ago

    I'M BRAZILIAN AND I AGREE!!

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    Rh 2 years ago

    Brazilians dont mind being late and I recently found out that this drives Americans crazy.

    PS. I am a Brazilian

  • lidialbuquerque profile image
    Author

    lidialbuquerque 2 years ago

    Thanks you @Melissa and @Jill for your insightful comments! I am glad you enjoyed the post :)

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    Jill 2 years ago

    How cool--I just found this from my daughter, Melissa, above comment! She's in Rio, I'm in Kentucky! I have only noticed the lack of a sense of time. I love, love, love Brazil, my Brazilian son-in-law, and all the warm, friendly, and gracious family and friends I've met. I have found them to be helpful and patient w the language barrier when shopping, dining, touring, etc, etc. I can't wait to go back!

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    Melissa 2 years ago

    Great post! Im american living in Rio for 7 years now and have gotten adjusted to nearly everything (and even adopted some of these - like difficulty in keeping commitments - guilty!) but the one habit that I can't get over is the Brazilian mad rush to be the first one in/off/out/on. Elevators and subway cars - people have to get out before you can push your way in. Boarding flights - there is a reason your ticket has a group number - stop crowding the boarding area! getting off flights - for the love of all things sacred, stop racing from row 32 before the plane is even parked to try and get out faster than me in row 7! it's some deep-rooted mix of the "mutt complex" and the "line cutting" habits that manifests itself in an "if I don't screw you, I'll get screwed" resulting in a lack of basic public courtesy. other than that, I love brazilians, I married one :)

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    Amber 2 years ago

    Spot on! The not knowing how to say no has screwed me several times over when I think I'm planning a big event, invite half the brazilian community (with specific date, time, etc), make excessive amounts of food and my house impeccable and nobody shows up.... Not talking about coming late. I'm used to late, but not showing at all. I have a friend who showed up to a party about an hour late and I was thrilled that she came, because my beef is not with punctuality, but with saying yes when you mean no.

    Being very involved in the Brazilian community, I've had to learn to interrupt. I discovered I wasn't getting a chance to say anything, not because nobody was listening, but because if you are in a group of people and don't have the "talent" (or if in a group of Americans it would be considered the "Bad manners") of interrupting, you will never ever be heard. I'm working on getting out of this learned habit while talking with my American friends. I find that conversations filled with interruptions is not so welcome with them as it is necessary with Brazilian friends and family.

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    Rico 2 years ago

    Since moving here to Brasil. I have been told repeatedly to give up my American ways and expect less of the Brasilian people.

    I have a higher respect for these people. So, no I will maintain my American-ness and resist lowering my expectations of the Brasilian people.

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    bruna 2 years ago

    Hate to admit it but yes we are all like that!!

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    Pilar Alvarez 2 years ago

    Some of these comments could cross racial sectors to other countries if you ask me. Naturally, its my opinion I could understand that mutt complex as Americans that follow the rat race of politics good or bad outcomes. The sharing of food sounds right or wrong except depends on individuals really where there is a time, place, and ambiance for this sort of activity. All in good taste, if you ask me. Thanks for accepting my thoughts on the manner.

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    KRJ 2 years ago

    This is the one that stands out: "The Underdog Complex, or the “Mutt Complex". But then again, if there can be any consolation, the British suffer from the same complex and their reputation in the US is for being too apologetic.

    The "Difficulty in Saying No" is typical of latin cultures and ties directly to the "Impossibility of Going Straight to the Point".

    I would not quite agree with "Difficulty in Keeping Commitments" as it is actually only related to people's tolerance to delay. I find it is acceptable in North America to be 5-10 mins late, depending on the engagement, but an American would find himself in trouble in Germany where the tolerance is pratically 0.

    The "Line Cutting" trait can be relative to cultures as North-Americans living in big cities have no such concept when it comes to elevators, which I find quite annoying.

    Lastly, I do not mean to offend anyone, but the "Line Cutting" trait is particular to many women. My buddy and I found ourselves many times in our cars waiting for our respective "other-halfs", who are engaged in continuing conversations with their female counterparts by the host's exit door.

    Anyway, even though old habits die hard, one must almost remember that "once in Rome, do as the Romans"

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    DAS 2 years ago

    We'll, I agree with in some points you've listed. On the other hand, some time ago I remember I was talking to a Canadian guy about this "American politically correct behavior", specially with regards to kiss a woman when you are being introduced to her by someone else. His answer: I don't care. I am French Canadian and we kiss each other all the time. Every time I come to USA I kiss (gently) those women I have been introduced to. You known what? At the end, I believe they like. My thought: we can act as we really are with respect, kindness and mutual understanding. At the end, we are all the same...

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    Mariana Leite 2 years ago

    Well, I'm Brazilian and I must say that you are 100% right. In our defense, most of the time we don't even realize we do these things hahaha

    Nice post!

  • lidialbuquerque profile image
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    lidialbuquerque 2 years ago

    Thank yo so much Carol!! I am happy you and your husband could related to it! :)

    Please feel free to check my other posts!

  • Carol Pozzi profile image

    Carol Pozzi 2 years ago from New York, New York

    OMG! Lidi you got straight to the point, you made it :)

    I have to send this to my husband, and once for all he needs to understand that he is not alone, it is what it is hahahaha

  • lidialbuquerque profile image
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    lidialbuquerque 2 years ago

    Thanks for the comment Alina! I should go to Hawaii then! :-)

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    Alina 2 years ago

    Brazilians are like people from Hawaii! That's why I like them!