Finland is very well developed economically, but still a relative unknown when it comes to making business deals. Nevertheless, because of its central position, it is worth winning customers in Finland. If you are planning a business trip to the Nordic land, you should be aware of some of its customs, which we have summarized for you.
Clothes are very important
At a business meeting, men should wear a suit and tie. It is recommended that women too wear a suit.
Forms of address and presentation
Finns are proud of their titles, but they rarely reveal them. Nevertheless, they expect to be addressed by their title. Therefore, pay attention to formal salutations, such as doctor or general director. Regardless of the hierarchical structure in the company, it is normal in the workplace to address colleagues informally, with the exception of older people, who are more likely to be addressed formally by younger colleagues.
Finns usually greet each other with a short and firm handshake. Further body contact, such as hugs or kisses, rarely occurs. If you want to show special respect for your discussion partner, you can signal it with a bow or a slight nod.
Punctuality is very important in Finland. Therefore, arrive on time for your meetings and business appointments. A delay of fifteen minutes requires an apology; it is considered rude not to apologise.
If your business partner invites you to his private sauna, do not refuse. View this invitation as an honour and a sign of a successful deal.
Negotiation and agreements
Be factual and direct during debates. You should know that Finns definitely mean what they say and take topics seriously. Finns do not beat about the bush. They do not gesticulate much, but they listen very carefully. The way they use few words combined with Finnish directness may seem rude to you, as a foreign visitor. Therefore, be prepared for targeted and structured discussions without small talk. In terms of negotiations, it is also expected that verbal agreements will be respected. They are just as important as the written agreements.
The topics of religion, politics and alcohol are considered as taboos. You may like to bring alcohol as a gift, but it should not be a fixed topic of conversation.
The seating arrangement at the table is determined by the host, and the guest of honour sits to the right of him or his spouse. At formal meetings, speeches (usually by the guest of honour) are held between courses. During the meal, alcoholic drinks such as cognac are served, and coffee is drunk. After the meal, thank your host for the invitation.