The Swiss Cultural Background

The Swiss value cleanliness, honesty, hard work, and material possessions. Motto: “Unity, yes; Uniformity, no.” They are very proud of their environment and have a long tradition of freedom. They value sobriety, thrift, tolerance, punctuality and a sense of responsibility. They are very proud of their neutrality and promotion of worldwide peace. The Swiss have a deep-rooted respect for saving and the material wealth it brings.

Meeting and Greeting

  • Shake hands with everyone present; men, women, and children; at business or social meetings. Shake hands again when leaving.
  • Handshakes are firm with eye contact.
  • Allow the hosts to introduce you at parties.
  • Use last names and appropriatetitles until specifically invited by your Swiss hosts or colleagues to use their first names. Academic and professional titles are used frequently.

Corporate Culture

  • The Swiss take punctuality for business and social meetings very seriously and expect that you will do likewise. Call with an explanation if you will be delayed.
  • Generally, English is spoken in business with foreigners. Inquirebeforehand to determine if an interpreter is needed.
  • The Swiss tend to get right down to business after a few minutes of general discussion.
  • The Swiss are fair bargainers but not hagglers. Discussions are detailed, cautious, and often pessimistic. Decisions are made methodically.

Gifts

  • Be prepared to give a gift in case you are given one. A gift with your company logo is acceptable.
  • Give books, deskattire, whisky, cognac, good bourbon, or wine. Do not give anything sharp.
  • When invited to someone’s home, always bring a small gift for the hostess and a small gift for children.
  • Do not bring large or expensive gifts. This is considered vulgar and makesreceiveruncomfortable.
  • Don’t give red roses or carnations (these implyromance). White chrysanthemums and white asters are for funerals only.
  • It is polite to send flowers to the hostess before a large party or the next day with a thank you note.