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Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

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Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Old 03-21-13, 05:49 PM
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Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

I came across this interesting post about business manners when dealing with Scandinavians. I always find these things amusing because they are stereotypical and specific to a comical degree ("If a Finn makes small talk it will only be about Formula 1 or hockey.") Really? Finns don't like to make small talk about their smart phones or movies?

This happened to come from a British website, but what I would like to know is do other countries have lists of things they tell each other you need to know when doing business with Americans? I imagine it would be fucking hysterical if not downright offensive. Shit like "Americans only eat steak at business lunches."

Business tips for the chilly North
Finns like to hold business meetings in the sauna, in Denmark everyone addresses you informally, and in Sweden you need to come straight to
the point. A small guide to good business behaviour in the far North.

HEATED BUSINESS DISCUSSIONS.
You need to allow a lot of time for business meetings, because Finns never rush
a decision. Meetings usually take place in the homely environment of your Finnish colleague. As almost all Finns have their own sauna, it is not at all unusual for face-to-face meetings to take place there. If you are invited to the sauna, it means
the deal is as good as done. The invitation implies that your host has a high opinion of you, so don’t turn it down.

MEETINGS YES - BUT NOT JUST ANYTIME.
Norwegians attach particular importance to their private lives. This means that they really don’t like meetings that start after 4 p.m. And during summer holidays, from June to August, they are difficult to get hold of. Danes also shut up shop – and many firms – for several weeks over the summer holidays.

POLICE REGISTRATION.
When you travel to Denmark you must register with the local police within 24 hours. Hotels will normally deal with this, but if you are staying in a private house you must do it yourself.

DRINKING CUSTOMS AND BUSINESS MEALS.
Dining out in the evening in Finland means proving your capacity to hold your drink. At lunchtime, however, you should drink only coffee. Business meals in Norway generally take place in restaurants. If you are invited to a colleague’s private house, take your shoes off when you enter. Another must: the day after a business meal, you should again thank your Norwegian host.

PUNCTUAL TO THE MINUTE.
All the Nordic countries attach great importance to punctuality. It’s best to turn up a few minutes before the agreed time. ‘Seven for seven-thirty’ is not a concept that
Scandinavians understand – at least, not in a business context.

DEAL OR NO DEAL.
In Norway, yes doesn’t always mean yes, whether it’s a private or a business agreement. So you need to nail your counterpart down to ensure they do what they promised. Swedes, on the other hand, are people of their word: verbal agreements – or schedules or meeting arrangements – will always be adhered to, out of respect for their business colleagues.

COMMUNICATE, YES - BUT NOT ABOUT EVERYTHING.
Problems with communication in a business context are virtually unknown: most Scandinavians speak and write English fluently, and some have German language skills as well. Negotiations are conducted in a quiet and reserved manner. Finns attach great importance to the spoken word. If any small talk arises it will be about such subjects as Formula 1, ice hockey or Finnish history. In small talk with your
Norwegian host, politics, and criticism of either your own country or theirs, are
taboo and are considered indiscreet. Conversations about alcohol lead to instant
incomprehension. Danes like to talk about their own culture, current events,
or their homeland.

Don’t be too free with compliments; flattery is frowned on. In Sweden you should
come straight to the point and speak openly. Team work is very highly valued:
the negotiations will go on until all the outcomes are agreed. Always let a Swedish
colleague finish what he has to say; Swedes hate any kind of interruption. Which means that you should leave the meeting only in an emergency.
I found a good example of American etiquette on another website: "Americans socialise in their homes and ‘backyards’, in restaurants and in other public places." The quotes are not mine. Oh us and our "backyards". Typical American.

I found another gem: "It is quite common for a business person to put your business card in their wallet, which may then go in the back pocket of their trousers. This is not an insult."

Last edited by Mabuse; 03-21-13 at 06:58 PM.
Old 03-21-13, 08:30 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Who the hell wrote that whatever it was.
Old 03-21-13, 09:26 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Americans socialise in their homes and ‘backyards’, in restaurants and in other public places.
So Americans socialize in their private homes, and outside their private homes! Oh, the insight!
Old 03-21-13, 09:29 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

This reminds me of all of the ludicrous "how to do business with the Japanese" articles in the 80s.
Old 03-22-13, 11:10 AM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by dmkb View Post
This reminds me of all of the ludicrous "how to do business with the Japanese" articles in the 80s.
Those still exist. All of this can be a useful guide and you do need to be aware of different customs when traveling but it often becomes ludicrous along the lines of "Finns only talk about F1."
Old 03-22-13, 12:04 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by dmkb View Post
This reminds me of all of the ludicrous "how to do business with the Japanese" articles in the 80s.
"Remember to shave your pubic hair or it will be censored during your trip."
Old 03-22-13, 12:12 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

I found some more good ones about Americans:

The only proper answers to the greetings "How do you do?" "How are you?" or "How are you doing?" are "Fine," "Great," or "Very well, thank you." This is not a request for information about your well-being; it is simply a pleasantry.

"See you later" is just an expression. People say this even if they never plan to see you again.

Holding the middle finger up by itself is considered insulting and vulgar.
Old 03-22-13, 12:18 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I found some more good ones about Americans:

The only proper answers to the greetings "How do you do?" "How are you?" or "How are you doing?" are "Fine," "Great," or "Very well, thank you." This is not a request for information about your well-being; it is simply a pleasantry.
This kind of stuff can be useful, though. England's version of "how are you?" is "you all right?" and when I first moved there, for a few weeks I was really worried that I looked ill or something.
Old 03-22-13, 02:07 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I found some more good ones about Americans:

The only proper answers to the greetings "How do you do?" "How are you?" or "How are you doing?" are "Fine," "Great," or "Very well, thank you." This is not a request for information about your well-being; it is simply a pleasantry.
Oh, if only some of my coworkers understood that.
Old 03-22-13, 03:53 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
Who the hell wrote that whatever it was.
This..

Finland is actually not apart of Scandinavia. Do a bit a fact checking before you write an article like this.
Old 03-22-13, 04:33 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Reminds me of this:

Heaven and Hell

Heaven Is Where:

The French are the chefs
The Italians are the lovers
The British are the police
The Germans are the mechanics
And the Swiss make everything run on time

Hell is Where:

The British are the chefs
The Swiss are the lovers
The French are the mechanics
The Italians make everything run on time
And the Germans are the police
Old 03-22-13, 05:00 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Living in Japan for a year and interacting with the people was a culture shock. Lots of differences and "hidden traps".

I lived in Mexico for several years and I can't think of any major differences from the US.
Old 03-22-13, 06:09 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by arminius View Post
Reminds me of this:

Heaven and Hell

Heaven Is Where:

The French are the chefs
The Italians are the lovers
The British are the police
The Germans are the mechanics
And the Swiss make everything run on time

Hell is Where:

The British are the chefs
The Swiss are the lovers
The French are the mechanics
The Italians make everything run on time
And the Germans are the police
That's fucking hysterical!

Originally Posted by whitetigeress View Post
This..

Finland is actually not apart of Scandinavia. Do a bit a fact checking before you write an article like this.
They're not? What about their flag? Why's it like all the other Scand flags?

Also, I'm the one who wrote the title "Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians" so it's my mistake, not the article's.
Old 03-23-13, 02:43 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

They left off:
not referring to Scandinavians as hoople heads, or square headed cocksuckers.
It is an accepted part of their grieving process to sympathetically lower the price on pussy for 20 minutes when one of them dies.
Old 03-23-13, 05:31 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by whitetigeress View Post
This..

Finland is actually not apart of Scandinavia. Do a bit a fact checking before you write an article like this.
Only because of the Finnish War in 1809.

otherwise they'd still be part of sweden.
Old 03-23-13, 05:37 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by Ropes Pierre View Post
They left off:
not referring to Scandinavians as hoople heads, or square headed cocksuckers.
It is an accepted part of their grieving process to sympathetically lower the price on pussy for 20 minutes when one of them dies.


Man I miss that show.
Old 03-23-13, 09:51 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by whitetigeress View Post
This..

Finland is actually not apart of Scandinavia. Do a bit a fact checking before you write an article like this.
You'd probably get in trouble referring to it that way to a Finn, but it's commonly lumped in as a part of Scandinavia by the rest of the world.

I went to Denmark several years ago and never heard that we were supposed to register with the police.
Old 03-23-13, 10:28 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

It is appropriate to refer to a Finn as "Huckleberry" ... they love this and consider it the highest compliment.
Old 03-24-13, 01:22 AM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

^^^This man is the reason why Americans must register with Polisen.

Old 03-24-13, 07:33 AM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
It is appropriate to refer to a Finn as "Huckleberry" ... they love this and consider it the highest compliment.
Old 03-24-13, 08:33 AM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

I only have one real-world example. Years ago, our corporate division was being sold by an Italian company to a Swedish company. The VP for North American operations told me that the cultural style for business meetings was very different. Americans valued efficiency, wanted to get to the bottom line, and then to move on. The Italians would get very angry and shout at each other. At the end of the meeting, they would hug in the parking lot and go have dinner together. The Swedes would decide everything before the meeting, so that the actual meeting would be smooth and quiet and formal. He said that it was quite funny to see the Swedes looking shocked and horrified when the Italians did their thing, and the Italians were oblivious to how it was affecting the Swedes.
Old 03-24-13, 11:15 AM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
This kind of stuff can be useful, though. England's version of "how are you?" is "you all right?" and when I first moved there, for a few weeks I was really worried that I looked ill or something.
Old 03-25-13, 12:18 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I found a good example of American etiquette on another website: "Americans socialise in their homes and ‘backyards’, in restaurants and in other public places."
Found that site and there were a few strange ones.

"Remain standing until invited to sit down."
I'm just picturing someone standing around awkwardly for a minute waiting for a formal sitting invitation.

"Leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating"
What???

Although I liked this one, as I can actually see this as something people might not realize:
"Feel free to refuse specific foods or drinks without offering an explanation."
Old 03-25-13, 12:45 PM
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Re: Business tips for doing business with Scandinavians

Originally Posted by DRG View Post
"Leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating"
What???

Although I liked this one, as I can actually see this as something people might not realize:
"Feel free to refuse specific foods or drinks without offering an explanation."
Probably more for eating at someone's home rather than a restaurant. Clearing the plate will lead to being offered more. Leaving a bit will limit the amount of refusing that needs to be done.

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