Doing business in Finland

Finns are considered to be the best listeners in the world and expect their counterparts to listen in a concentrated manner as well.

Image: by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Therefore, make sure that you don’t talk too fast and never interrupt your Finnish business partners!

These Finnish pauses during speech can sometimes seem unduly drawn out. However, silence fulfils a very different purpose in Finnish culture and is not perceived as a disruptive factor.

Explicitness is interpreted differently in Finland: repetitions are avoided, and the foreign counterpart often waits in vain for questions or detailed feedback. As a rule of thumb, if facts are not commented on or questioned, you can assume that things are “good to go”.

Say “Thank you!”

Finnish has very few polite expressions and phrases, such as those found in many other languages. The Finnish word for “please” is also rarely used. Questions and requests from Finns in English can therefore sound quite direct at times. Although “please” is rarely used by Finns, the word “thank you” (Finnish: “Kiitos”) is used much more often.

Foreign business partners will do well to say thank you after a meal, a reception and an effective meeting.

Finnish modesty

Finnish understatement is a likeable trait, although foreign business partners often tend to take it as an indication of incompetence. Therefore, if the image that a Finnish company projects, does not fully meet your expectations, it is worth considering this point. Finns “strangers” to praising and promoting themselves, but experience has shown that they are able to prove their skills in a pragmatic way in no time at all.

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First business meeting in Finland

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