A U.S. Guide to Swedish Business Culture
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us guide to swedish business culture

The old idiom “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” doesn’t just apply to Italy – it’s imperative when expanding your business in Sweden, too! Anytime your business wishes to serve another country, you’ll need to learn the way they do business and adapt your practices to meet their needs.

Just as you wouldn’t extend your hand to a Japanese CEO or use your left hand in Indonesia, you must also understand what’s acceptable and what’s forbidden when discussing and conducting business in Sweden.

One of the most critical elements when growing your footprint in Sweden is to master the way they speak. Using the correct terminology and adapting to the local vernacular will be party responsible for your success or failure.

Let’s look at some core business concepts in Sweden and how you can prepare your business for international success.

Core Business Concepts in Sweden

A country’s business is often based on the foundation of the country’s values. In Sweden, those values embody all aspects of modesty, equality, and respect for human rights. They’re an inclusive society that makes distinctions based on nationality rather than race or appearances. Socialist ideals are in abundance, along with an extensive welfare system.

In business, respect and consideration go a long way when arranging meetings, discussing topics, or making negotiations.

Most notable are the following:

  • It’s customary to arrange meetings two weeks in advance.
  • Business cards are shared at the beginning of meetings.
  • Meetings are often informal enough to use a first-name basis.
  • Small talk is virtually non-existent.
  • Decisions aren’t often made during first meetings.
  • Decisions usually require group consensus.
  • Peak holiday periods are February through March and June through August.
  • Refreshment breaks, called fika, are often used for informal meetings.

Understandably, it’s just as important to understand how to conduct business in Sweden as it is to talk about business in Sweden. American customs don’t directly translate into the Swedish business culture, and believing otherwise could be just as damaging as a linguistic mistranslation.

Swedish Translation Services Are Business Must-Haves

If you’re targeting the Swedish market, Investing in Swedish translation services is non-negotiable. Proper translations ensure you’re not only using the right vernacular, but also following proper business policy and practices.

A professional translator helps you bridge this wide (and often scary) gap between American and Swedish business ideologies. Translators shift away from word-to-word translation in favor of localized linguistics that match the appropriate business cases.

To find out more about Swedish translation services and how translators can help you navigate the specifics of international business, contact Tess for a free consultation.

Swedish Translation Services is a company owned by Tess Whitty, a freelance translator (English-Swedish), proofreader, editor, copy writer, localizer and entrepreneur.

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