Finally, I can grab a beer and get my fill of the global games of summer! The Olympics officially begin July 27th, and Sweden is set to compete in events ranging from Archery to Wrestling with a total of more than 20 events.
Here’s an interesting fact I read on Wikipedia about Sweden and the Olympics: Sweden first participated in the Olympics at the inaugural 1896 Games, and has sent athletes to compete in every Olympics since, with one exception, the sparsely attended 1904 Summer Olympics. Sweden has earned medals at all Olympic games except for two, the 1896 Games and the 1904 Games. The only other nation having earned medals at every Olympic game since 1908 is Finland. In fact, the people of Sweden have a principle of “lagom” or doing things “just right” but not doing anything unnecessary.
So, are the people of Sweden as team-oriented in business as they are in sports?
According to Business Culture in Sweden, because the people of Sweden value community, egalitarianism and consensus-seeking, generally, in business, team spirit is important — as long as the team follows the particular business’ ideals. Ongoing buy-in for goals and objectives is highly important, so therefore, team meetings are often frequent and long. And team members are accustomed to performing their individual tasks with little supervision from superiors. If there is too much supervision employees may see this as a lack of trust in their professional capabilities. I’d say team spirit is alive and well in Sweden.
SOME RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Personal is Private
Overall, business etiquette in Sweden is more formal than in the U.S., but, less formal than some other countries. For example, upon meeting (unlike the U.S.), Swedes consider inquiry about a business associate’s personal life to be, well, personal. So that discussions about home and family, as well as status and position, are usually not discussed.
The Art of Cards
Unlike some Asian countries that prefer business cards in their spoken language, Swedish business associates, who generally speak and understand English, have no problem with presenting a business card in English. But, Swedish business etiquette suggests protocol that includes taking a moment to study the card and then carefully placing the card in a wallet or briefcase. Never just take a business card and shove it in your pocket or write on it in front of others. That would be thought of as rude.
KEEP THAT YANKEE SPIRIT UNDER WRAPS
In America, we get brownie points for appearing confident in business. Not so in Sweden. In fact, the appearance of being somewhat reserved will earn you more respect than the appearance of being overly confident.
ONE LAST THING…
I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy the games even more after researching some of the countries that will be in the summer Olympics, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout to see signs of individual nationalism carry over from business to sports etiquette among the individual teams during the summer games.