Finnish Business Etiquette Tips

Finnish Business Etiquette

Business people looking to establish and grow a presence in new Finnish markets will benefit greatly from practicing proper Finnish business etiquette. Being familiar with and practicing proper Finnish etiquette will give you an advantage when working with your Finnish colleagues.

Keep in mind that Finns are reserved. Business people should respect this and refrain from showing excess emotion, using large hand gestures or speaking too loudly. By demonstrating proficiency in Finnish business etiquette, you will impress your colleagues and demonstrate your aptitude in the business world.

Finnish Business Meeting Etiquette

Proper business etiquette for Finnish meetings is distinct from that in the United States and in many other European countries. Here are some Finnish business etiquette tips to help you appropriately interact with your Finnish colleagues:

  • Go to the sauna - If a Finn invites you to the sauna, do not refuse. Business meetings are sometimes continued in the sauna on informal terms. Invitations to the sauna are a sign of hospitality and a way for you to get to know your Finnish colleagues.
  • Do not overdress - Finns see overdressing as ostentatious and arrogant. Finns do not appreciate any signs of superiority. Finland is proud of its egalitarian society and takes its culture very seriously. Do not speak too loudly or call attention to yourself. It is vital to be modest.
  • Don’t expect small talk - Finns like to get straight to business at the start of a meeting. Finns are uncomfortable with small talk and prefer silence.
  • Be punctual - If you are going to be late, please call in advance and apologize. End times are also strict, as Finns value schedules and structure. Lateness is disrespectful and inefficient.
  • Communicate directly - Finns communicate directly with their colleagues. Avoid strong displays of emotion. Finns see this as unprofessional. If you don't speak Finnish, consider hiring a Finnish translator or interpreter to demonstrate your professionalism and facilitate communication.
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  • Do not interrupt - Please wait until the speaker is finished before responding. This also applies to presentations. Hold any questions until the end of a presentation. However, Finns do not ask many questions. They expect presentations to be so thorough that there is no need for questions.
  • Send an agenda - Before a meeting, it shows respect and professionalism to send an agenda to your Finnish colleagues, as well as biographies of your team members. Go that extra mile and impress your Finnish colleagues by getting a Finnish translation of all pertinent documents.

Other helpful tips for Finnish business meetings include:

  • Please do not lump together Finns with Swedes in conversation. These countries maintain a bitter rivalry. Finland is a Nordic country, not a Scandinavian country like Sweden.
  • Treat business cards respectfully. The way you handle business cards symbolizes the way that you will deal with your Finnish colleagues. If your approach is to toss them into your briefcase without duly looking at them, your Finnish colleagues will assume that their business will be “tossed away” too.
  • Shake hands with women first. When you meet your colleagues for the first time, shake hands firmly with each person. Address your colleagues using full titles and surnames. It is important that you wait for the invitation to address your colleagues by their first names.
  • Do not schedule meetings in July or August. Finns take summer vacation during this time. Please note that business hours change seasonally in Finland. In the winter, business hours are from 8:00 - 5:15. In the summer, business hours are from 8:00 - 4:15.
  • Dress modestly. Men and women should dress stylishly but conservatively. Men should wear dark colored suits while women can wear either dresses, pantsuits or skirt suits.

Values Honored in Finnish speaking countries:

  • Egalitarianism
  • Directness
  • Time Management
  • Pragmatism
  • Punctuality

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