Negotiating with a Swede

In today’s multi-cultural business world, we often find ourselves negotiating agreements with people from other countries. In this situation, we often notice that people have different negotiation styles. These differences can partly depend on culture.

Stereotypes of cultural negotiation style often exist. For example, the American hard nose. The emotional Italian. The evasive Brit. What then is the Swedish stereotype? Firm, unemotional, punctual are a few of the typical stereotypes I have heard.

But can stereotypes be useful when we negotiate? Sure.

For example, many international negotiators are aware of the Swedish stereotype of time-consciousness. And they use it as a tactic against them.

I know certain negotiators deliberately schedule negotiations with Swedes on a Friday afternoon, and make the discussions drag on, and on….an on. This, they believe, is a sure-fire way to put pressure on the Swede. The Swede just wants to get home to the family. His weekend is fully packed with ice hockey practice,food shopping,training, and an afternoon party for one of the kids from day care. There is no way that he can miss the plane home on a Friday evening. Feeling the pressure, he makes concessions just to get the deal done. A very different approach from some other cultures who might cancel all plans and stay an extra week if that’s what’s required to gain the business.

No right or wrong, just different ways to do something. And different ways to use stereotypes against us.

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