THE SWEDES CULTURAL BACKGROUND
One of the key characteristics of Swedish culture is that Swedes are egalitarian in nature, humble and find boasting absolutely unacceptable. In many ways, Swedes prefer to listen to others as opposed to ensuring that their own voice is heard.
When speaking, Swedes speak softly and calmly. It is rare that you will witness a Swede demonstrating anger or strong emotion in public.
In terms, Swedes rarely take hospitality or kindness for granted and as such, they will give often give thanks. Failing to say thank you for something is perceived negatively in Sweden.
Meeting and Greeting
Business Personnel in Sweden are typically fairly reserved and as such it is important that all dealings are formal and serious until it is deemed acceptable by the respective Swedish personnel to allow events to become more relaxed.
Ensure that, maintaining eye contact coupled with a firm handshake, you shake hands with all attendees on both arrival and departure.
Ensure that you address your hosts with either their professional title or their honorific title and their surname – Mr. – Herr or Mrs. – Fru.
Avoid any unnecessary touching.
Gift Giving Etiquette
If you are invited to a Swede’s home then it is suggested that you take the same type of gift as you would give in the UK e.g. a bouquet of flowers or, a box of chocolates.
If you choose to give flowers, then ensure that the bouquet does not include white lilies or chrysanthemums. Since both types of flowers are given at funerals.
Since Sweden is such a child centred country, it is always recommended that you take gifts for the children of the family you are visiting.
. If you are personally given a gift, then it is custom to open it upon receipt.
Punctuality is absolutely essential. If you are late, then this will reflect very badly on you and will be viewed as discourteous. Swedes rarely engage in small talk at the start of a meeting. Instead, people will move directly to the topics at hand.
Swedish business personnel are extremely detail focused and as such any presentations should be well prepared with supporting, accurate and relevant data. Be assured that your hosts will pay a great deal of attention to the detail.
Swedes rarely make decisions during initial meetings and as such, the first meeting that you have with your hosts is likely to be fairly general and low key. Swedes are direct communicators and as such, “Saying what you mean and meaning what you say” is both practiced and expected. Awkward silences’ are rarely seen as awkward in Sweden and as such, Swedes do not rush to fill conversation silences.