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Portugal's Social Customs: What You Need To Know

January 14, 2022
2022-01-14
For a time, Portugal used to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. But today, though not exactly poor, it's more fitting to say that the country has seen better days. While Portugal isn't in its most fruitful era, the country remains an important player on the global stage. So much so that more and more businesses are eyeing the small but influential European country. You might find yourself going here for work someday too! And when that happens, you'll need to act accordingly! You'll have to follow Portuguese business etiquette so you can seal the deal and work well with the people here!

Portugal's Social Customs: What You Need To Know


The Portuguese are More Conservative

Throw away your preconceived notions of what Europeans are really like because the Portuguese are a pretty unique set of people. Amidst the lively Spanish and the loud Italians, the Portuguese are actually pretty conservative. And they expect you to be just as reserved if you're visiting their country. Here in Portugal, it's actually considered rude if you're too loud and boisterous. Your voice shouldn't be so loud that the other people around you can already hear your conversation. Act modestly at best and always be mindful of others. Only then will the locals be comfortable enough to open up to you.


Greet People Properly

When it comes to first introductions, greeting people properly is always a must! You either say Bom dia (Good morning), Boa tarde (Good afternoon), or Boa noite (Good evening) depending on the time of day. You also shouldn't forget to address people as either Senhor and Senhora followed by their surnames. Only wait until the person has allowed you to call them by their first names before doing so. The Portuguese can be pretty particular when it comes to their given names. As for gestures, it's common for men to hug and women to kiss each other on the cheek.

Portugal's Social Customs: What You Need To Know



Respect Your Elders

The family unit is pretty important in Portugal. In fact, even in business settings, you can expect others to prioritize their own families instead of the business. And in society, respect for the family means that elders are always given the proper respect. When you walk into the crowded room, you'll have to greet the oldest people first then go down by age from there. You should also always address the elders with Senhor and Senhora even if they've allowed you to refer to them by their first names. And in business meetings, people with the most seniority are always given utmost priority.


Arrive on Time Always

As far as punctuality is concerned, you might find that most Portuguese people aren't too particular about that. Some will arrive late to work or even to business meetings and barely anyone will make a fuss about it. And even during social gatherings, arriving 'fashionably late' is pretty common here. However, do note that this sort of attitude is only accepted among the Portuguese. As foreigners, you're expected to arrive early on time in any setting. Be it at work or at a social event, arriving late is a huge no-no! Only when you've gotten very close with others will you be allowed to be late.

Portugal's Social Customs: What You Need To Know



Always Dress Sharply

For the Portuguese, making a good impression matters. And what better way to do it than to dress as sharply and as elegantly as you can? At work, don your best-tailored suit or designer dress! At any social gathering, donning a clean and sophisticated look goes a long way. As long as you look your best you'll be fine! You'll also receive plus points if you wear designer clothing too! It's not that the Portuguese are too particular when it comes to branded items, but going for famous labels is a show of wealth and that can make all the difference!


Don’t Invite People Out on Weekdays

Want to go out with your newfound Portuguese friends? Do it on the weekends! As a general rule of thumb, the Portuguese don't go out after work on the weekdays. They'd much rather rest after a long hard day at work than go out drinking and partying. Mostly, they reserve all the fun during the weekends, when they have the time and energy in the world to let loose and relax. But during the weekdays? They mostly prefer to go straight to their homes and rest. You'll rarely find the Portuguese socializing after work. And in the off chance that they do, it's a good chance that it's also work-related in some way, shape, or form.


Gift Some Sweets

When you want to give a gift to the Portuguese, your best bet is to go for sweets. Say you get invited to their luxury home for a small social gathering. Flowers or a bottle of wine can still be good, but you can never go wrong with a box of chocolates or some local treats. Desserts like bolos de mel (honey cakes) and toucinho de ceu (heavenly lard) will really leave a strong impression. They'll love it even more since it might hit them with some nostalgia; they're often the kind of treats they grew up eating.

Portugal's Social Customs: What You Need To Know


Knowing how to socialize with the Portuguese properly when you're in Portugal goes a long way! Fortunately, it's not that difficult to do! All you really need is to know and follow their social customs and you're good to go!




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