The Finns Cultural Background

Finns believe there is a proper way to act in any circumstance and always expect courteous behaviour. Talk in moderate tones and do not do anything to call attention to yourself.
Serial conversation is the rule – i.e. listen to the speaker, wait for them to finish and then reply. Interrupting is rude.

Finnish Meeting Etiquette
. Greetings are formal, with a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and a smile.
. It is common practice to repeat your first and surname while shaking hands.
. When greeting a married couple, the wife should be greeted first.

Finnish Gift Giving Etiquette
If you are invited to a Finn’s home, bring flowers, good quality chocolates or wine to the host.
. Flowers should not be given in even numbers.
. Do not give white or yellow flowers since they are used at funerals.
. Do not give potted plants.
. Gifts are opened when received.

Finnish Dining Etiquette
If you are invited to a Finn’s home:
. Arrive on time. Finns are punctual in both business and social situations.
. Remove your outdoor shoes before entering the house.
. Contact the hostess ahead of time to see if she would like you to bring a dish.
. Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served.
. If you are invited for coffee and cake, there may be as many as 7 cakes to sample.
. Do not discuss business.
. Thank the hosts for the hospitality before saying good-bye to the other guests.

Business Meeting Etiquette
. It is extremely difficult to meet with people without a formal appointment.
. Do not schedule meetings between June and August as many Finns take vacation during the summer.
. Expect a bare minimum of small talk, if any, before getting into the business discussion.
. Send an agenda before the meeting as well as the biographies of your team.
. Avoid hype, exaggerated claims, or bells and whistles in your presentation.
. Finns seldom ask questions. The presenter is expected to make his/her case with sufficient detail that their Finnish colleagues do not need to ask questions.
. There is no taboo on humor in the business environment.

Finland is an egalitarian society, which is reflected in their language, which employs gender-neutral words.
. Finns are very modest and downplay their own accomplishments.
. They view being humble and modest as virtues.