Lessons from Brazil – Smile for the Customer

tl;dr – In terms of the subject at hand, Brazilians don’t hide how they feel while Americans disguise how they feel. 


In the few years I’ve spent in Brazil, I’ve noticed something interesting about how employees (who deal with the customer) act if said customer talks badly of their place of work or of their brand. The typical employee response? “I don’t care…at all.” This isn’t a verbal response, despite my quotation marks, it’s more in the body language and facial expression. I almost want to say the employee is even possibly on the side of the customer in thinking their job, brand or some product sold by the brand sucks (when, in certain instances, it so happens that it does suck). It’s as if the employee thinks, “hey, I just work here, if something isn’t right, it’s not my problem.” Being more specific, I notice this mostly in supermarkets and places where people eat. Let’s not even get into the fact that almost every…single…cashier in Brazil is slow beyond words (my theory as to why there are so many lines in Brazil. Seriously.).


In the US, as employees, we’re taught to represent the brand and/or the products being sold. To basically vouch for anything and everything to do with it. We are the face of the brand and as a customer service rep., we take all the good and the bad that is thrown at us, and we take it with a smile! (Though we talk a lot of shit when no customers are present).

Frankly, I think being made to fake it is a big bunch of BS, and my guess is that most customer reps in the US are faking it. If you don’t like your job, you shouldn’t be there (in a perfect world, I’d have it like this). I think…well, Louis CK says it rather well, although he focuses on 20 year olds (the video has cursing). Here’s a transcript if you prefer to read.


8 thoughts on “Lessons from Brazil – Smile for the Customer

  1. So true! thanks for your perspective on things. I did notice the slower paced workers but in my mind, that wasn’t so bad b/c it seemed like everyone else did the same thing, so I figured their lifestyle wasn’t rushed like ours?

  2. I agree. Even Brazilian complain about the slow pace, believe me. People huff and puff in lines when the cashier takes too long but it´s ineffective. Money is time and time is money, but Brazilians only seem to notice things from their perspective. When waiting, time is valuable, when serving or attending, they take their time.

  3. Sometimes there are lines, not because cashiers are slow, but because there aren’t enough cashiers working during that. Most of the time there is not enough cashiers.

  4. Brazil is so big. Is it true about the whole country? I can only say about Rio. Cariocas are sincere and straightforward. If they dont like something, they will say it. Cariocas, in general, don’t like phony people. Although I live here, I haven’t seen it happening so often.

    • I’d say it’s true about the several cities I’ve lived in (in Brazil). Unless they are in conversation with their coworker, and therefore smiling or engaged in a subject, they look like they’d prefer to jump off a bridge than be there. Again, almost entirely geared towards cashiers.

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