Etiquette and Customs of Sweden
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Etiquette and Customs of Sweden

One of the characteristics of Swedish culture is that the people prefer to listen to others instead of insisting that their voice be heard. It is common for Swedes to talk softly and calmly. It is very rare that you will see a Swede demonstrating anger or strong emotion in public. It's also rare for Swedes to take hospitality or kindness for granted. Failing to show gratitude is perceived negatively in Swedish culture.

One of the characteristics of Swedish culture is that the people prefer to listen to others instead of insisting that their voice be heard. It is common for Swedes to talk softly and calmly. It is very rare that you will see a Swede demonstrating anger or strong emotion in public. It's also rare for Swedes to take hospitality or kindness for granted.  Failing to show gratitude is perceived negatively in Swedish culture.

Hospitality

It is more common for guests to be invited to a Swede’s home for coffee and cake than a meal. If you are invited for a meal, you should be on time. Arriving early or late is considered impolite by the host or hostess. It is not uncommon to see guests sitting in the car or walking around the block until their expected time of arrival. 

When invited to a Swedish home, make sure that you are dressed smartly and appropriately. It is considered inappropriate to ask to see the rest of the house because Swedes are generally private. When eating at the table, keep your hands in full view with wrists on the table. Also, do not start eating until your host or hostess starts eating their meal. You should eat everything on your plate. It is considered rude to leave any food uneaten. 

Meeting and Greeting

When greeting someone, you should maintain eye contact while giving a firm handshake. You should ensure that you greet all individuals upon arrival and departure. When addressing someone, you should make sure that you refer to them by their professional or honorific title followed by their surname. Personal space is valued in Swedish culture; therefore you should respect a person’s personal space and avoid unnecessary touching. 

Gift Giving

If you are invited to a Swede's home, it is suggested that you bring a bouquet of flowers or chocolate. If you choose to give flowers to your host or hostess, be sure that the bouquet does not include white lilies or chrysanthemums. These type flowers are typically given at funerals. Sweden is a child centered country, therefore it is wise to give a gift to children that might be present at the home of your host or hostess.

Business Culture

When attending a business meeting, it is wise for men to wear good quality conservative business suits with silk ties and shirts. Also, women should wear conservative business suits and dresses. It is also recommended to avoid wearing flashy or elaborate jewelry and accessories.

When arranging a business meeting, make sure that you confirm your appointment two weeks in advance. You should also avoid arranging appointments or meetings during June, July, and August. This time period is commonly used for vacation. Also avoid making appointments in late February through March. The Swedes use this time to take a holiday, and the Swedes are also absent during Christmas time.

Swedes do not engage in small talk at the beginning of a business meeting. Therefore, you should be prepared to start discussing the issues at hand.  Although meetings are generally managed by one person, everyone in attendance is expected to participate and contribute.

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