15 pieces of advice when dealing with Swedes.

(Original text be Colin Moon)

1)   Swedes send out the agenda for the meeting three weeks in advance. This means that, by the meeting, all the points have been discussed and everyone is ready to share the same opinion.

2)   Swedes stick to the agenda. They tick off each point as the meting progresses. Never delay the end of a meeting as everyone probably has another meeting to go to 10 minutes after this one has ?nished.

3)   Swedes like to compromise. Everybody gets something to keep them reasonably happy. Not a lot, but just enough. Nobody wins and, what’s more important, nobody loses.

4)  Swedes love the next to last point on the agenda. It is the date and time of the next meeting. Life will continue as they know and love it.

5)  Swedes are not fond of the last point on the agenda – ‘any other questions’. Having a last-minute question may cause the meeting to run over. Anybody who has a spontaneous question at the end is probably a foreigner. (You know, the kind of person who is always late and messes up schedules).

6)   Swedes rarely say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Instead of saying ja or nej they say nja which means ‘yes-but-no-but-yes-but-no-but’. Swedes avoid the word ‘no’ and replace it with ‘it depends’, ‘maybe’ and ‘I’ll see what I can do’.

7)   Swedes keep their cool. Foreigners may get excited, irritated or angry. Swedes don’t. Hysterical behaviour is bad style and literally not on the agenda. If, on the other hand, you hear a Swede say Usch! Nej, men…!  it’s about as hysterical as it gets.

8)   Swedes love their coffee break – the fika. Swedes claim that to fika is a concept, a way of life, a philosophy. Refusing a fika with a Swede is basically an insult to the whole country.

9)   Swedes work hard, but they are not always at the office to do it. If they don’t make it into work they answer their mails and calls from home and do all work they can via computer. It’s called jobba hemifrån. This is probably why Sweden is world-leader in hooking up to the company server via secure lines from home.

10) Swedes work well in teams. To say you’re not a team player is unheard of and like admitting you’re not a good parent. Joking about being a hopeless driver is not a problem for a Swede. But it might not be a good idea to joke with  Swede about it yourself…

11) Swedes ask about your plans for the coming weekend as early as Wednesday afternoon. It’s the time when last weekend officially stops and next weekend mentally starts.

12) Swedes have as many days off in May and June as most Americans take in a year. Not only do they have ‘red days’ (public holidays), but they often go home at lunchtime the day before to get in the holiday mood.

13) Swedes love their squeeze days. It’s the day between a holiday and the weekend so why not take that off too? It’s called a “klämdag”. With clever planning, Swedes can enjoy a week or two off over Christmas, New Year and Twelfth Night so it becomes more like a squeeze week. Do not interfere in those plans. Ever.

14) Swedes dream of taking the whole summer off work. They have five weeks paid vacation which they often take in July. Once a Swede was told he had five weeks to live. “I hope it’s in July” he said.

15) Swedes live for the summer. The Swedish summer is the warmest day of the year. And as Sweden is a very normal country, it is normal for the Swedish summer to be a bit colder than normal. So better not mess with a Swede as he´s on his summer holiday… Calling him/her during summer-vacation might be an insult for life. A Swede would never forget that. Never.

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