Some foreigners also find negotiating with Swedes exhausting at first, as all clauses may need to be discussed in fine detail, and when an agreement is met it may then be open for discussion again if further grey areas are discovered. This careful approach to business is typical of the Swedish people.
They have high expectations of themselves and others as they see this as the most efficient way to maximise quality of life and maintain work-life balance. Most Swedes are fluent in English and running business meetings with foreigners in English is seen as appropriate. However, as a business professional you will build many more bridges by using some key Swedish phrases.
Listening to Swedish podcasts and watching Swedish YouTube videos are two good places to start. Expats who have lived in Sweden for a while tend to marvel at the work-life balance achieved by Swedes. Great importance is placed on family and Swedes structure their work life around quality time with their loved ones. Swedes will work hard for you in the office and will aim for lagom in their work, which loosely translates as doing just enough or the right amount to complete a task effectively.
Further exemplifying the Swedish work-life balance is fika , coffee and bun breaks. All Swedes enjoy fika and it is usually held twice a day in the office. While people in other countries may work through their short breaks, Swedes will not. Swedes may also be inflexible with the timing of fika, so it is not the moveable feast, so to speak, that it may be in other countries.
Swedes are generally relaxed in the office environment and this extends to their clothes.
Jeans and other casual wear usually qualify as smart casual with suits only being worn for important meetings. Suits should be conservative; dark in colour with a shirt and tie. Women can wear either a skirt or trousers. In the office and other social situations people are generally referred to by their first name. Greet both your male and female Swedish colleagues with a handshake. Men do not need to stand when a woman enters the room. The key element to all business in Sweden is punctuality and it is worth remembering this when it comes to meetings. Swedes view lateness in both social and business interactions as disrespectful.
Swedes like to be prepared for meetings, so rescheduling or changing the agenda or venue at short notice will be frowned upon. Arrange your meeting at least two weeks in advance and expect a swift reply, confirming the meeting arrangements. Small talk at the start should be kept to a minimum and meetings should finish on time; Swedes may begin to pack up their belongings when a meeting is due to finish. When it comes to organising meetings, foreigners must remember the importance Swedes place on work-life balance and the move towards flexible working environments, particularly in more forward-thinking industries.
Many business people come to Sweden from cultures that encourage breakfast meetings to start the day. Not much, just a little space or a dash here or there would be nice -- so we know where one word ends and the other starts. Sweden's news in English Search. Editions Austria Denmark France. Germany Italy Norway. Spain Sweden Switzerland. Membership My account Gift voucher Corporate Help center.
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Share this article. Taking inspiration from comments make by readers of The Local, US exile Doug Lansky offers up ten more distinctly Swedish habits which often give expats plenty to talk about. They're also fun. Sometimes funny. Sometimes annoying. Get notified about breaking news on The Local.
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Swedes are generally tough negotiators. They are methodical and detailed, slow to change their positions and will push hard for concessions. In the relatively small private sector, it is important to know who is who and how everyone fits in the corporate structure. Important decisions are often made by middle and lower level managers.
While decision making may be a slow process, implementing decisions is often rapid. Do not call a Swedish businessperson at home unless it is important and you have a well-established relationship with this person. Dining and Entertainment To beckon a waiter wave your hand and make eye contact.
Business entertaining is most often done in a restaurant during lunch or dinner. Business breakfasts are acceptable, but not as common as in the U.
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Business can be discussed at any time during a meal. Spouses may be included in business dinners. Female guest of honor is seated to the right of the host. Male guest of honor is seated to left of the hostess. Dinner is often served immediately at dinner parties.
There may be no cocktail hour. Toasting is something of a formal ritual in Sweden.