Business contacts in Sweden are not to be underestimated. They can be priceless. If you follow this Business Etiquette for Sweden, you’ll be well prepared for negotiations and business dealings.
Be on time
The Swedish put a lot of emphasis on punctuality, so never arrive late. That’s considered very impolite, unreliable and disrespectful. If you are running late due to traffic or any other reason, you absolutely need to let your discussion partner know.
Keep it friendly
Always be polite and friendly. In general, the Swedish are very laid back, so they quickly offer a first-name basis. Say “please” and “thank you” as often as possible. Go ahead and say it several times. That’s how you’ll succeed. By the way, irony isn’t very well received. Be more reserved and don’t exaggerate. The Swedish prefer understatement.
Gifts are welcome but not a must. You will definitely win them over with a bottle of wine because alcohol is very expensive in Sweden. High-quality chocolate is another good choice. However, the gifts shouldn’t have too high a value as they’ll otherwise considered a form of income. Should you receive a gift, thank the giver. As you already know, the Swedish appreciate that greatly.
Smalltalk is kept rather short in Sweden – just as an icebreaker to start off the conversation. Criticism of the Swedish system of government, the royal family or the immigration debate are considered taboo topics. The following topics are much better received: sports, vacation and culture.
Quick and objective
Negotiations are usually quick and objective. The Swedish like clear presentations with realistic and detailed information. Data, facts and graphs play a major role; emotions are left out. It is generally not difficult to close a deal in Sweden. Managers are accessible and like fast decisions.
Language of business
The Swedish speak English very well. Accordingly, they also conduct business in English. A few simple sentences in Swedish, greeting and saying goodbye as well as please and thank you, are very well received. Always have an English brochure at hand for more information.
A work-life balance is very important to the Swedish, which means that family and private life play a major role. Therefore, avoid scheduling appointments after 4:00 p.m. or on the weekend. In general, Mittsommer is very important in Scandinavia. As a result, in the period from 24 June to the end of August, you shouldn’t try to conduct major business.