Swedes have their own way of communication and it works perfectly fine, yet it can be a bit confusing and difficult to navigate if you are unfamiliar with the Swedish culture.
Moving to Sweden, there are many things that you need to learn and get a hold of, but in order to be able to form and maintain effective relationships both personally and professionally, you NEED to understand the Swedish art of communication.
And we understand your struggle… so we’re about to walk you through a brief on Swedish communication.
1. To begin with, aggression is always a bad idea!
Swedes do not tolerate aggressive behaviour, and while in most cultures threats and violence are frowned upon, in Sweden, as little as raising your voice is seen as inappropriate and interpreted as a lack of control over your emotions.
This does not mean that Swedes do not get upset or angry. Yet when they do, they usually don’t convey it through raising their voice or showing aggression. Instead, they will avoid eye contact or even end a conversation abruptly.
2. Silence is part of communication
Many of us tend to perceive silence in a conversation as awkward or uncomfortable. In Sweden though, silence is an essential element of a good conversation. It means that one is reflecting and thinking deeply of what is being discussed.
So, if you ever feel like you need some time in order to respond to someone thoughtfully, take all the time you need, it’s better than just throwing in words.
Silence can also be just silence, and as you familiarize yourself with the culture, you’ll get good at differentiating the types of silence.
3. Moderation is key
Swedes value moderation in their lives. Just like they avoid seeking huge houses and cars, they also make sure not to hog the conversation. Try to always stick to the pace of the conversation, and don’t talk more than other people as it might be perceived as rude.
4. Avoid interruption
It’s never ok to interrupt or talk over others. Make sure that everyone takes their turn to speak during a conversation, and people you are talking to will also follow this rule so everyone will be heard.
5. Seek a middle ground
Compromise is crucial in Sweden. When you are negotiating, the goal is never actually to get what you want. Instead, you should always work towards finding a conclusion that will please everyone.
The good news is that you can usually trust that the person you are speaking to will have the same goal in mind. They will also be trying to find the middle ground, so you won’t have to worry about getting taken advantage of.
The Swedish art of communication is a wide topic that you need to dive into in order to excel at your new job. Eager to learn more about it? Want to walk into your new job with confidence?
Start our course today, The Swedish Work Environment: Expats’ Guide, to ensure your readiness for your new adventure. Peers Bridge