7 Brazilian Habits that Drive Americans Crazy
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...