Etiquette and manners in Sweden: how to offend a Swedish citizen.

Jos Deuling,  Monday, 5 December 2016

Traditioneel Zweeds huis 

Etiquette and manners in Sweden.

Take off your shoes before entering a home. Sweden is a wet country and when you walk outside your shoes get dirty. At parties, people sometimes bring an extra pair of shoes.

If you try to jump the queue. Swedish people always stand in line: at a bus stop, in the canteen. Standing in line is an unwritten law in Sweden, so don’t try to be smart but wait quietly for your turn.

Swedish people don’t like small talk. Don’t ask someone how it goes without being interested in the answer.

Swedish people don't like to negotiate prices. Negotiating the price is second nature to many immigrants from the Middle East. Especially when buying used cars, this leads to comic situations.

Do not stand too close to a person. Swedish people like to keep some distance. It’s not polite to touch someone amicable at a first meeting. Keep a distance of at least a meter.

In public space Swedes are on their own. Eye contact is avoided and on the bus, people will not easily sit down next to you. In public transport, you will see many people reading or busy with their mobile phone to avoid eye contact.

Avoid conversation topics that could lead to heated discussions. Do not start a discussion about politics or finance. Swedish people shun confrontation. In communication, they don't appreciate the show of power, hierarchy or emotions.

Always arrive on time for an appointment.

If you go out for dinner of to the movies, it is very common to pay for yourself. Swedish people do not like to be in debt.

Giving the birthday girl two or three kisses on the cheek is not usual. A kiss is often only reserved for intimates.

If you want to visit someone, please make an appointment in advance. A spontaneously unannounced visit is not appreciated.

If you have a problem, Swedish people will not offer help spontaneously. But if you ask them they are willing to help. They are somewhat reluctant but no less friendly.

They use remarkably little body language in communication. Make sure that you keep eye contact.

Brilliant! Highly comprehensive, written by a foreigner who married a Swede AND lived there for a number of years. Goes into every aspect, from how they think, perceive others and other nations to how they decorate their home.

Apart from knowing some Swedes on a business level, I read several books dealing with Swedish history, mentality, and culture. This one adds to putting more pieces together and confirms the information gathered from the other books and my own experiences so far. It is ever so enjoyable to read since it is packed with humour and irony.



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