After all, Sweden is one of the world’s most gender-egalitarian countries.
Kind of ironic considering the whole ‘Swedes are reserved’ thing, but this is so true.
I recently had a meeting to plan for another meeting, which was itself preparation for the main meeting. All these meetings may seem unnecessary and inefficient to the outsider, but they are part of Sweden’s consensus culture.
This non-hierarchical approach to decision-making obviously doesn’t work everywhere.I recently spoke with a Swedish manager who has tried to bring in an open-door policy at his office at an Asian car company, actively encouraging his employees to share their opinions or raise problems.But his employees won’t speak up because in their company culture pointing out mistakes is taboo.It’s true that the Swedes aren’t the world’s most outgoing people, but I do feel their reclusiveness has been… I remember my Swedish teacher telling our class of newly arrived immigrants that Swedes living in flats often look through the peephole in their front door before stepping out into the hallway.This was out of fear of running into a neighbour and having to talk to them.
Exaggerations aside, the average Swede is less likely to talk to a stranger, unless being asked for directions.
I think it could be something to do with the weather: if it’s cold and wet you’re less likely to take the time to stop and chat to people in the street, and that behaviour becomes ingrained.
A word of advice: Many Swedes think it’s rude to pry and ask personal questions, so don’t be offended if your new Swedish friend doesn’t ask for your life history. Once you’ve got past that ‘obstacle’, the Swede is as friendly and warm as anyone else.
When I talk with men from elsewhere in the world and tell them I live in Sweden, I often get the question: ‘Are Swedish women as beautiful as they say?
’ And I have to say the answer is a resounding yes – but don’t expect them all to be tall, blonde and blue-eyed.
Do, however, expect them to be strong-minded and independent.