5 Swedish business cultural values we always follow
Here at Eversoft we value and identify with Swedish culture because we have the same values in our corporate DNA. We have been operating in the Swedish market for some time, so we would like to share what we have learned about their culture. Although similar to other western European cultures – it has some unique characteristics that are good to know when doing business with the Swedes.
From this article you will learn:
- What are the 5 cultural elements that are characteristic of the Swedes
- What are the dos and don’ts during meetings
- Our Swedish partnerships
1. Better right than quick
Swedes usually appear informal and relaxed, but this is a mistaken impression. They enjoy careful and meticulous planning. Behind the friendly mask is usually a well-prepared person who knows exactly what they want. Swedes prefer thinking over immediate action and do things “better right than quickly.” They believe that the quality of work is higher when one works systematically and plans carefully.
2. Trust, honesty, and openness at every step
Truthfulness, sincerity, direct approach, and trust, not only with employees but in general, are one of the most important foundations of this culture. In other countries, there is often a perception that trust and respect must be earned, while Swedes immediately accept people as they are, with no need to prove anything to anyone. Swedes admire personal vulnerability and expect all dealings to be honest. It is far better to admit limited experience or a missed deadline than to make excuses or to try and hide the truth, which helps to develop trust – and deeper working relationships.
Scandinavian companies – and Sweden is no exception – are generally built on a strong foundation of cooperation and full participation. To foreigners from more hierarchical cultures, this can look like indecision and extreme inefficiency. Swedes only move forward when all opinions have been heard. Rushing processes or making decisions by force of position will not be appreciated, and foreigners who continue to bet on them will encounter fierce resistance.
3. Better less but more accurate
The communication style of the Swedes may be perceived by some as impetuous, aloof, stuffy, and even boring. However, these are incorrect observations. Swedes want to be well understood, so they communicate in such a way that there is no doubt about what they mean. The Swedish communication style is direct and open. It is useful to get to the point immediately to avoid wasting time. This can appear to be a bit rude but you shouldn’t take it personally. They value a task-oriented approach to work, directness, clarity, and being factual, but they also avoid confrontation.
4. Supporting the local economy
Swedes are very proud of their society, so it is unwise to criticize their way of life, welfare system, economy, government or culture. In addition, the Swedes pay a lot of attention to who they work with. Ideally, the company with which they cooperate should pay taxes in Sweden, and treat and compensate its employees fairly.
5. Work, but don’t forget to live
Sweden, like Denmark and the Netherlands, has adopted policies to improve the work-life balance of its citizens. The Swedish government has taken the initiative to reduce work-life conflict, allowing Swedes to strictly separate work and private life. They schedule working hours so that they can get home on time for instance. Putting personal matters before the demands of outsiders can easily be interpreted as “laziness” or avoidance of professional responsibilities. However, the opposite is true: Swedes work hard and efficiently, but during their specified working hours; outside working hours, (family) happiness is very important to them. Swedes sincerely appreciate someone who is clear about their work-life priorities.
Dos and don’ts
- Better right than quick. Show that you are organized and structured. Be punctual at all times. Always have a meeting agenda prepared.
- If you want to do business in Sweden, think about having local partners and a local presence. The Swedes will appreciate it.
- Swedes avoid arguing, especially with visitors. If a discussion appears to be turning into an argument, do not be offended if a Swede abruptly changes the subject.
- Do not use a lot of superlatives when speaking. The Swedes are opposed to stretching the truth. The marks of rank or status are disliked.
- Topics like family, income, and personal background should be avoided.
- Swedes are very proud of their society, so it is unwise to criticize their way of life, welfare system, economy, government, or culture.
- Swedes are proud of being some of the world’s most politically correct people, and would never consider making fun of someone’s personal characteristics. Racist or sexist jokes are not tolerated.
- Work, but don’t forget to live. Regularly working extra hours tells Swedes that you can’t manage their workload very well. Do not propose meetings after 5 pm.
- Take fika seriously. Swedes are inflexible with the timing of fika (coffee break). So don’t disturb their coffee routines.
Our Swedish partnerships
Ultiro, Eversoft group
Ultiro is a Sweden-based IT company that uses diverse tech talent to help Scandinavian businesses and organizations to create innovative digital solutions. Our partner is a full-stack system developer and information technology company that develops software products, on its own and alongside strategic partners. They also offer system development and IT consulting services to Nordic and international companies.
Eversoft combines competencies and experience with the Ultiro team in the Swedish market to make your company efficient and faster with much lower costs. By delivering more efficient solutions, we can help take your business to a higher level.