Business Practices in Finland

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The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
- Being punctual is a sign of respect and efficiency. Telephone immediately if you will be detained more than 5 minutes.
- Expect a bare minimum of small talk, if any, before getting into the business discussion.
- Finns never interrupt when someone is speaking and tend to distrust those who talk too much.
- Avoid hype, exaggerated claims, or bells and whistles in your presentation.
- Finns seldom ask questions. The presenter is expected to make his/her case with sufficient detail.
- Relationship building often takes place outside the office: in a restaurant or the sauna. Never turn down an invitation to use the sauna, as it is an entrenched part of the Finnish culture.
First Contact
Appointments are necessary and should be made in advance by telephone, e-mail, or fax. It is extremely difficult to meet with people without a formal appointment. Meetings begin on time; you should arrive at meetings on time or slightly early.
When greeting, the parties shake hands and make eye contact. A Finnish handshake is brief and firm, and involves no supporting gestures.
How to Present Yourself
When introducing themselves, Finns will say their first name followed by their surname. Finns usually use first names, unless there are big differences in age or rank or it is a very formal setting. Titles are not used in speech very much nowadays. Finns don’t repeat first names when meeting and feel slightly uncomfortable with this practice.
Business Relations
Finland is a modern, commercially mature country that enjoys close relations with its Nordic neighbors. Social and business protocol is similar to that in the United States and requires no special mentions of taboos. Relationships are important within the social and business world as Finns prefer to deal with people they know and trust.
Gifts are rarely given in business relations, Christmas gifts making an exception. They are given in person or sent by mail and they are typically given in the name of the company and not a private person.
Business Communication
It is usual nowadays for people in a workplace to address each other in singular form and by forename up to and including senior management, at least in larger workplaces. Singular form is commonly used today in service occupations, too, although older people may resent the implied familiarity. However, young people still tend to address middle-aged or elderly people by the formal second person plural if they do not know the persons well.
Dress Code
Business attire is stylish and conservative. Men wear dark colored, conservative business suits, women wear conservative business suits, trouser suits, or dresses.
Visiting Cards
Businessmen and persons in public office are expected to distribute business cards as a means of ensuring their name and title are remembered. There are no special rituals related to exchanging business cards in Finland. For a visitor, receiving a business card provides a convenient opportunity to ask how a name is pronounced or what a cryptic title might mean.
For Further Information
A guide to Finnish customs and manners by Virtual Finland
Finnish business culture as seen by the Kwintessential website
Finnish business culture as seen by the Executiveplanet website

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