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Sweden, like any other country, has its own unique business culture. Understanding this culture is crucial to building strong and lasting business relationships in the country, and can help you to gain a competitive edge. So what are the key and distinguishing elements of Swedish business culture?


Taking the time to learn, consider and reflect

Swedes like to understand the process which will facilitate a solution. They take the time to familiarise themselves with approaches and methods, involving themselves in the journey that will lead to the outcome. The decision-making process may be extended by the fact that Swedes like to be given the opportunity to raise questions and concerns during follow-up meetings or calls, rather than feeling pressured to do this during the initial meeting/call, as this gives them the time to consider and reflect.


Accountability and availability

When working with a company, Swedes want to be given a primary contact who they can reach out to with questions or connect with immediately in the event of something going wrong. They deal with things hands-on and like to see a quick result, thus their contact must be willing to embrace accountability and be responsive. Titles matter less than open communication and a willingness to nurture a partnership.


Business relationships vs personal relationships

Business relationships are built over time and trust must grow organically. The wining and dining culture which is popular in many regions around the world isn’t popular in Sweden. It is viewed as quite a pushy sales technique which doesn’t sit comfortably within a culture which favours subtlety.

Family life is a hugely important part of Swedish culture – for example, parental leave is shared and both parents play an equal part in a child’s upbringing. Work life balance is equally important and Swedes tend to keep their work life and their personal life separate.


Respect equals more than courtesy

For Swedes, respect is not simply about being polite. It is about being considerate of other people’s time and so prioritising punctuality. It is about keeping your word, following through on actions that have been promised in conversations or meetings. And it is about engaging with the Swedish culture in as many ways as possible. For example, although English is the secondary language in Sweden and the majority of the population speak it fluently, Swedes appreciate it when a business partner can communicate in Swedish.


So to conclude, when conducting business in Sweden, make sure to manage your stakeholders’ expectations when it comes to timescales; commit to being available and fully accountable; never blur the line between personal life and work life; and be respectful of people’s time, the trust that they place in you and their culture.

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