How to communicate with Swedes



Hello everybody! My name is Karin Myring and I will try to give you some useful tips how to communicate with people from Sweden. As I have found out it’s not always easy to understand our unspoken rules.

(Karin on the left and Gunilla on the right)


What about me? Soon I will have a degree in Rhetori, Communication and Leadership at Örebro University. I live in the countryside of Örebro together with my two cats and five horses. I used to compete in dressage and show jumping with my horses but now it was quite a while ago. Another kind of sport I like to practise is skiing down hill. There’s something about the speed and the challenge. I really love to travel and try new things!

I also love to spend time with my friends and family!


Why rhetori, communication and leadership? My plan is to work as a consultant for companies that need help with there internal marketing. I want to help leaders understand the fundamental parts in communication and how this can help them develop a stronger motivation among their employees.


And so, here follows some tips for you who want to be successful when communicating with Swedes:


1.)  Do not stand too close. We Swedish people like to stand at least one arm-length of a distance between each other. If you stand too close we will feel uncomfortable.

2.)  Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking, this we might perceive as rude behaviour.

3.)  If you yawn, we will think that you are not very interested in this conversation, or that you’re just nonchalant, rather than tired.

4.)  If you speak to loudly before we know you, we might think that you are aggressive.

5.)  If we ask you a question, we will assume that you will answer the question before you start speaking about something else. Otherwise we might think of you as arrogant.

6.)  When Swedes are sitting quiet, just looking at you, it doesn’t mean that we’re not interested in what you are saying, rather the opposite. We are interested and we are waiting for our turn to say something.

7.)   What we Swedes try to achieve as much as possible when communicating, is consensus.  We want everyone to feel they are a part of the discourse and we don’t want to determine the solution of a problem without asking for your opinion first. And we expect you to do the same. Otherwise we will think of you as a “superior-wannabe”.

8.)  Smile often. We like friendly faces. It makes us feel more relaxed.

9.)  If you make a joke, don’t make a joke about us! Make it about yourself – we really like that! It means you possess humour and self-distance.

10.)             Swedes generally don’t like prestige. Don’t try too hard. Don’t show off. Just be relaxed and show us that you are honest, interested and open-minded.


Peace of cake!

Really looking forward to cooperate with you! =)

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12 Responses to How to communicate with Swedes

  1. Sooo interesting to learn the 10 tips of how to communicate with Swedes! Thanks for providing the tips. I hope my students will also try and formulate the 10 tips of how to communicate with Russians.
    Look forward to our collaboration,


    • Karin says:

      Thank you Olga!
      I’m really looking forward to read “the 10 tips of how to communicate with Russians”. It will be very interesting to compare with our Swedish way.

      It will be a pleasure to collaborate with you!

  2. Anna says:

    It’s very usefull notes! I think this information necessarily help us to communicate with Swedish people in right way! Thank you for it!

  3. Anastasia says:

    Thank you for the information! It`s very interesting and usefull to know it! In our turn I`d like to write several facts about Russians. Well, we`re cheerful, like to joke 🙂 We are also able to laugh at ourselves. Russians are very hospitable. If you are a guest at the Russian`s home, be sure you won`t be hungry. And if you`re at the celebration at the Russian`s home you’ll be surprised by the variety of dishes. It is very important to bring something for tea if you`re invited to the Russian`s home. To drink tea with Russians means their good attitude to you. Russians never have dinner with people they do not like. Ask everything you’re interested in 🙂

    • Karin says:

      Thank you for that lovely description what to expect when being a guest in a Russian home!

      If I was invited for tea, what would be appropriate to bring? And how comes tea is a sign of good attitude? How comes that you serve so many dishes, and do you serve them at the same time? In Sweden we generally serve three dishes; appetizer, main course and dessert, and then “Fika”(coffee and something sweet). And if we bring something, it’s generally flowers, chocolate or a good wine.
      Swedes quite often have dinner together with people we don’t really like! (because our friends like them, so we try not to show what we really think… Rather stupid actually…Ha ha!)

      Would love to visit Russia after your description, but I also feel I would like to learn more about how to act polite!


  4. Stanford University says:

    Oh, I even can’t expect that Sweden don’t like jokes about them from another person! It’s very useful information for Russian students, because we like to joke a lot! And to make a joke about your friend is very necessary in informal chatting. So, thanks))

  5. Anastasia says:

    Oh, I even can’t expect that Sweden don’t like jokes about them from another person! It’s very useful information for Russian students, because we like to joke a lot! And to make a joke about your friend is very necessary in informal chatting. So, thanks))

    • Karin says:

      Thank you Anastasia for your reply!
      Swedes love to make jokes, and we often make them full of irony. But we are very sensitive to jokes about us, if it’s made of a person we don’t really know yet 😉
      Interesting what you said about the importance of making a joke about your friend in informal chatting. In which way do you joke?


  6. lisa obidennik says:

    Oh so interesting n important information,i ll try to use it))thank u


    thanks for your tips i am planning to come to Sweden in next August month for studying , these tips will help me .
    i also wanted to know where could i learn to communicate Swedish. I am from India and can speak English fluently

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