Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos: Communication Guidelines for NORWAY

Posted on February 18, 2013 by

The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos – A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z: NORWAYNorway

 

Punctuality is important. Norwegians appreciate punctuality for social engagements as well. If you must be late for any reason, make sure you call in advance and explain.

Standard business or business casual attire is the norm. It’s best for jewelry and accessories to be somewhat understated.

Tonality in business should be moderate. Norwegians prefer that people do not raise their voices when discussing something.

Body language, touching and gestures aren’t overly demonstrative, nor do Norwegians use extremes of expression in business.

Do not ask personal questions until asked first, and don’t be offended if Norwegians do not inquire about your family or work. This is a rather private culture and personal and business lives are often kept separate.

Norwegians accept silence as normal, so don’t hurriedly fill in pauses in the conversation. Also avoid superficial conversation.

All Scandinavians appreciate it if you can show knowledge of the differences between the people of Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark.

During introductions, give a simple, firm handshake often with just one or two pumps. It’s not the norm to exchange gifts in ordinary meetings. Norwegians introduce themselves with their first name followed by their surname.

Many Norwegians have two given names and both are used as a ‘first’ name, for example Peter Marten or Selma Astrid. It is impolite to shorten the name to just the first of the two.

For business purposes, Norwegians sometimes introduce themselves by title if expected to do so. However when a relationship has been established, Norwegians usually move onto a first name basis.

There are few things Norwegians are openly offended by, and they regard themselves as worldly and unbiased. However, they do not appreciate loud or boisterous behavior in any context.

Norwegians prepare for meetings and expect you to have done the same. Punctuality is extremely important.

The Norwegian communication style is often seen as somewhat ‘direct’, and they will get to the point quickly and establish the boundaries before addressing the finer details. Facts and figures are very important and must be accurate.

Presentations should be concise, matter of fact and to the point. Any visuals or handouts should contain only the essential information.

In meetings and negotiations, Norwegians believe that everyone should be included and everyone should be given an opportunity to have a say. They consider and value all opinions.

Although negotiating teams may have a leader, they are not necessarily the main decision maker. Consensus after discussion is the goal, and because negotiating teams typically come to decisions as a group - negotiations can take longer.

There is a strong emphasis on equality and all members of a negotiating team are of equal value and status. Don’t be surprised if the lead is taken by a woman even when she is obviously younger than any of the men.

There is a high value placed on proven ability, and there is a defined  management hierarchy. The authority to make a decision may be delegated down the management structure, however, there may also be a need to refer decisions sideways to ensure that all those affected have their say.

Norwegians have a great appreciation of nature and the environment. They make great efforts to protect their countryside and coastlines.

Norwegians are very hospitable and will invite you to their homes occasionally for dinner. Be sure to arrive promptly and take a bottle of wine, or flowers for the hostess.

The most common toast is ‘ skål’, pronounced ‘skoal.’ Do not sip your drink until the host or hostess has said ‘ skål ‘, and only then take your glass and raise it.

5 Key Topics or Gesture to Use in Conversation

  • The Nobel Prize is a well-known feature of the Norwegian culture
  • Folk Music and Norwegian composers such as Grieg
  • Travel and experiences in other countries
  • Current events and politics – if you know what you’re talking about
  • Sports – especially football (soccer), biathlon, cross-country skiing, and rally driving

5 Key Topics or Gestures to Avoid in Conversation

  • · Any criticism of the Norwegian government or culture
  • · Discussing how much you earn or comparisons with pay scales in other countries
  • · Paying compliments to people you have just met – compliments are typically well earned
  • · Bragging or anything associated with rank, status and showiness
  • · Avoid overly demonstrative expressions and body language

Bon Voyage! 

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Author: Gayle Cotton, International Keynote Speaker & Cultural Expert

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