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Rude much?

So, at risk of offending all of Brasil I begin this post.

Brasilians are kind of rude. When speaking to others they don’t tend to use please, would you, and thank you. It is much more of a command language. I.e. “Shut the door.” Versus “please shut the door.”

But that is not just my observation, just something shared with me by several Brasilians and confirmed by my husband.
My observation is around how  Brasilians like to boss.   I ran across a magazine article on how you should treat your maid. There is a general theme of micro management, stern lord over you attitude, where you can say some pretty direct things. Which is some what the opposite of what I’ve seen of Brasilian culture…non confrontational.

Brasilians don’t usually say things straight out. They will omit phone numbers so you can’t call. Create family emergencies, and generally avoid root issues. Except when you are the boss or seen in a position where you’ve got seniority (i.e. you’re not the maid). Then it seems to be free reign on being bossy.  My husband has witnessed at work a very different management style than one you would find in the US, i.e. public reprimands, yelling, and general insults to those under you. Don’t worry I said witnessed, not  received.  But it’s just not something you would see in a highly corporate environment normally, it happens don’t get me wrong, but it’s usually industry or small company specific, and looked down upon as bad management style.

Things an American would never come up to a stranger and say, people have no problem telling my maid.  They of course never ever say these things to me, I’m a Dona, but she’s a baba, and anything they think she’s doing wrong, they take it upon themselves to “help me” by reprimanding her.

And that’s my small observation, from my small little world that I have in Brasil. Could be totally off base, but for now that’s it.



About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

20 responses »

  1. Eu até concordo com você em alguma coisas, como a falta do “por favor” em algumas frases e o tratamento que algumas pessoas despensam a empregadas domésticas.

    E uma coisa que pode escapar a uma pessoas aprendendo português, muitas vezes em português o tom de voz usado em uma frase vale muito mais do que o “por favor”.

    Agora discordo totalmente quando você diz que os “managers” americanos são mais “educados” que os brasileiros. Eu trabalho numa multinacional de TI e reporto diretamente aos chefes americanos, e eles são horriveis, não respeitam ninguém, gritam, riem da sua cara….

    Isso tudo considerando que eles ainda tratam melhor os brasileiros do que tratam os indianos e chineses. Os indianos, em geral, são tratados pior do que se trataria um cachorro.

    Talvez os chefes americanos respeitem os empregados americanos, mas para os estrangeiros eles são horriveis.


    • Eri- Wonderful observations! My husband has said many of the same things.

    • Verdade, o tom de voz é importante!! Agora eu não pense nela como rude, mas quando cheguei ao Brasil, eu estava sempre tentando adicionar mais palavras para sentenças.

      Eu trabalho para uma empresa de Consultoria em Capital Humano, e qualquer “manager” que grita com os seus empregados são terríveis
      Também, talvez… aqui os americanos são horrível e pensam que podem se comportar mal. Eles não têm as mesmas expectativas sociais como fizeram em os EUA. Em os EUA, as empresas nunca deixaria muito do que acontece aqui acontece. E, infelizmente, o racismo não acontece muito.

      True, the tone of voice is important! Now I do not think of it as rude, but when I arrived in Brazil, I was always trying to add more words to sentences.
      I work for a Human Capital Consulting firm, and any “manager” who acts as your managers do are considered bad managers. Also the American Managers here may be horrible, as they think they can misbehave. They do not have the same social expectations as they did in the U.S.. In the U.S., companies would never let a lot of what happens here happen. And unfortunately, racism does happen much.

  2. I agree with your descriptions of small interactions. And even very kind, loving people do this. My husband has hurt my feelings more than once and been baffled, so I know they don’t really see it as ‘rude.’ That’s a judgement from an outside perspective.

    I also include the distinction when teaching English- that you can’t just go around saying to people “Give me the rag.” “I want a coke.”, etc. My students have reflected it’s kind of silly and makes you sound unsure of yourself.

    A great post. Thanks for the observations!

    • Yeah it’s not really rude at all, it’s just different.. just like your students think us Americans are weak and that we don’t know what we wan’t and have to hem and haw and walk around the issue. We both seem silly to the other, and it all comes down to a few simple words. I find it fascinating, and actually have found it easier for me to learn Portuguese as I can say things much more directly.

    • So true about the observation of being unsure of yourself! Whenever I say in Portuguese “Eu acho que quero …… (qualquer coisa)” My MIL always says “Voce ACHA??”

      It’s just that in portuguese, it’s culturally understood that tone of voice (which is much lower than English) and directives “I want, Give me, Do this, Do that” isn’t seen as rude. It’s just the way they speak.

      In fact, some of my students see our ‘politeness’ as unnecessary extra words! Another cultural difference to add to the pile!

      (Totally feel you though – the lower octave makes everything sound so harsh and angry)

  3. Well, one persons point of view is really cultural. And one person’s view is personal and we perceive things that really are not real too. Plus, we are just one person. And ours may not be the same experience as the many. It’s just the facts.

    My husband has really liked his American bosses compared to his Brazilian bosses. But he said that he likes American bosses better in the US and they tend to become like the rude counterparts of Brazil.

    First off, I have the worst luck of bosses. I have never had a “nice” polite and down to earth boss in my life. Only one young brazilian boss for four months, but she had no idea how to be a boss and was given the job by her mother.

    So I have had both American and Brazilian bosses chew me out in public. And swear at me. I also had bosses in the Brazil and the US who I thought were going to hit me. I promise you it was uncalled for, I’m not some crazy person. I’m very nice, educated, polite, down to earth and someone who remains calm. Although with American bosses it seems to be like based on a case, like one situation of mental abuse per month. While with my Brazilian boss is was constant mental abuse everyday.

    • Eu tenho certeza que existem bons chefes/gerentes americanos, mas como você disse, minha experiência até agora com 4 chefes diferentes foi bem ruim.

      O que eu acho é que não da pra generalizar, assim como existem “chefes” americanos bons e ruins, existem chefes brasileiro bons e ruins.


  4. You are totally on target. I’m still not on the best terms because of how my mother-in-law treated my former maid, under the guise that she was “helping” me. (I think she just needed to feel powerful, but that just my American assessment of the situation.)

    • that’s probably why you are not on the best of terms still. She genuinely probably thought that was the best and only way to go about it. I’ve read several articles about how a good housewife manages her maid, and it sounds very similar to your MIL… just think of her as the Martha Stewart of Brazil… how could you fault her then 😉

  5. I think Brazilians and Americans are the same when it comes to being nice or rude.
    I have seen super nice Americans and super friendly Brazilians and mean bastards in both countries in equal numbers.
    But if I was to classify a certain people as being rude, or more rude than others Italy comes to the top of the list in my mind…and before anyone say anything, I am part Italian. 😉
    Sorry to say but if you think Brazilians are rude, you desperately need to find some new people to surround yourself. I have never heard of such absurd.
    Regarding abuse or mistreatment of maids, I must say this is a very isolated case and not a general rule around Brazil at all, the same thing regarding bosses, there are A.holes everywhere people, who are we kidding? And there is the same amount of nice/polite people. Let’s just hope you can surround yourselves with non rude group.


    • Lol to be fair Ray I did a whole post about how rude Americans are too. It’s just different cultural viewpoints, and this is where I think the Brazilians come across as ruder.
      The way Brazilians treat their maids would be considered rude to a foreigner yes. I thank my maid every time she hands me something, or washes or dish, or does something, and she thinks I’m just the silliest thing. As for abuse of maids, I’m not talking about abuse, or even sticking a maid in a tiny room, I’m talking about the general viewpoint of expectations of how you can micromanage a maid, which isn’t viewed as bad treatment at all. And yes there are plenty of Aholes in the US, I’ve met em, I won’t argue on that.
      Just making a cultural observation, just like I did when I said Americans were rude too. You should have seen the shocked Brazilians at MIA when I was trying to explain to them that the AA flight attendants would not let me board early just because I’m 7 months pregnant.. they were horrified.

  6. My in-laws have a maid. I use manners when I speak to her. Bring plates back into the kitchen for her, might try to wash up. She thinks I’m touched. I think a lot of Brazilians treat their slaves with a rudeness that they don’t see. It helps them think they are higher up the food chain than they are.

    • Yeah, my maid thinks I’m touched too and tells her friends how silly I am, but she’s got used to it as well, and says this is the last time she’ll do it. guess we ruined her. 😉

  7. O artigo esta um tanto antigo. Mesmo assim, gostaria de pedir-te licenca e deixar meu comentario e espero que em nome da “democracia” voce o publique. Meu parecer sera escrito em Portugues. Por que se falou a respeito de um povo, provavelmente fala, lê/compreende e escreve o idioma. Como o teclado do leptop, é estangeiro nao sera possivel acentuar as palavras como deveria, desculpe-me.

    Generalizar o comportamento de uma nacao, baseando-se em meia duzia ou uma duzia de pessoas com as quais teve contato, nao me parece muito plausivel, alem de demontrar uma tremenda falta de educacao. Sua amostragem estatistica deve ser muito pequena, somos milhoes brasileiros e brasileiras, nao se esqueca!! Sou BRASILEIRA, e sempre peco POR FAVOR, pergunto se eu PODERIA, digo MUITO OBRIGADA e quando necessario peco DESCULPAS, assim como eu, a maioria dos meus amigos e tambem familiares. Tom de voz e maneira a qual pedimos algo a alguem é muito importante, as vezes e dependendo do caso, muito mais educado do que um “please” mecanico, como é entre a maioria dos AMERICANOS que eu conheco ou melhor estados unidenses. Pois o Continente Americano é enorme, concorda?!!

    Antes de tecer comentarios “rudes” a respeito das boas ou mås maneiras alheias, por gentileza te peco, para entender que nem todos os cidadaos do mundo sao obrigados a gostar de vestir calca jeans ou a beber coca-cola. O que significa, que devemos aprender a respeitar os modos e a maneira de vida que cada nacao do planeta vive. E assim, nunca mais seremos obrigados a ver determinados “povos educados” jogarem bombas em cima de criancas, mulheres e idosos, inocentes. sem pedir LICENCA, tentar roubar as riquezas do outros paises sem pedir POR FAVOR, tentar impor seus modos e maneira de viver, sem ao menos perguntar EU POSSO, sera que eu DEVERIA OU voces GOSTARIAM? E apos destruir tudo “democraticamente”, OBVIO, pois sao educados. Ir embora e dormir tranquilamente sem ao menos pedir DESCULPAS ou tentar CONSERTAR o erro cometido. O que quero dizer com isso ?!!! Voce esta se preocupando com coisas minimas ao inves de observar e preocupar-se com o que é VERDADEIRAMENTE ser RUDE.

    Muito obrigada pelo espaco cedido, tenha um excelente dia!

  8. I’m sorry for the delayed response, life is so much busier now that I’m back and trying to reestablish a household. This post really isn’t saying Brazilians are rude… but that to someone learning the language and foreign, the subtleties of how something is said — which is big in Brasil- is lost on my American ears. Portuguese is a command language and more direct in how sentences are constructed than English, we tend to dance around the core of the matter– ironically I find that the content of what we share is more direct than Brazilians. That’s either here nor there. I could easily write a blog post about how Americans are louder, or Northern Brazilians are a lot more open in what and how they communicate than Paulistanos. Does that mean its a universal truth- no. Does it mean that it is more common in my experience, which is what this blog is, yes. As for the bossy factor, I stand by that one 100%. Brazilians like their system where there is a strong boss and the employee and they do tend to be more micromanagy– and I’m not talking corporate, I’m talking this is the cleaning lady, or the person bagging your groceries. It’s okay to be bossy, and is seen as good management. But again that’s me.

  9. I work in a salon which has recently “gone Brazilian”. I never heard one bad word about Brazilians. I have had nothing but good experiences with the “Spanish” community in South Florida but having rubbed close to these Brazilians, all my experiences have been bad — not one, or a few — ALL. The girls are all bitches and princesses. They dress like sluts, they all think they are beautiful, even when the look like men with wigs. They have MAJOR CONTROL issues. They have no class, no manners. They are COMPLETELY ANTI-AMERICAN.

    That’s my conclusion from having to work along side of them and hearing and watching their non-english speaking customers.

    • I think that’s just a subset of bitchy folks. Kind of like watching any of the “housewives of…” shows. I wasn’t actually saying Brazilians are rude, in fact they’re a lot less direct about things in general than Americans.

      The way they speak however would seem rude to an American given word choice, but to a Brazilian it’s not rude at all.


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