Brain food: A passport to Sweden

Brain food: A passport to Sweden - The prejudice: we see them as genial and prosperous; they see us as serious and formal, always dressed in a three-piece suit and carrying a briefcase.

by Dr FRANK BURDETT
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The prejudice: we see them as genial and prosperous; they see us as serious and formal, always dressed in a three-piece suit and carrying a briefcase.

Best foot forward: exercise self-restraint and avoid boasting. Talk in a calm, quiet way but be direct.

Dress code: wear good-quality clothes and polish your shoes. A well-tailored suit is expected for business meetings, but nothing too colourful or flamboyant.

The main event: do not become emotional or raise your voice in meetings.

Put forward your proposals in a clear, well-reasoned way and listen to the response. People will move carefully towards a consensus view, so decisions may take time. Do not expect a rigid hierarchy: staff of all descriptions are viewed as equals in the workplace, and will usually be on first-name terms, regardless of status.

Table manners: if you are invited out for a meal, be punctual. Dinner at 8pm means precisely that - being fashionably late is considered rude.

Once there, relax and eat in an informal atmosphere - don't talk business.

Do say: emphasise the importance of looking after the environment and the countryside. Football is also popular and can be a useful standby.

Do not say: don't make pointless small talk; avoid mentioning Queen Silvia's nicotine habit.

Signs of success: be patient; negotiations may be long, but success in a business deal will be clearly indicated - the Swedes do not waste time on proposals they don't believe in. If they are still talking, they are still interested.

Lycka till!

Dr Frank Burdett, language and culture for business programme, www.lcb.org.uk.

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