How to Do Business in Finland
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Loyalty, reliability, self-sufficiency and independence are
highly valued. Finns are proud of their heritage and current
society (they are leaders in peace conferences and international
peace initiatives). They enjoy nature and proudly protect
their environment, which is one of the cleanest in the world.
Finns value their privacy and appreciate others respecting
Meeting and Greeting
- Shake hands with everyone present–men,
women and children–at a business or social meeting. Shake
hands again when leaving.
- Keep some physical distance from Finns.
Respect their shyness and desire for privacy. Do not engage
a Finn in conversation on a bus or in a line, restaurant
or other public places.
- Never hug, kiss or touch a Finn.
- Maintain eye contact when speaking to
- Never talk to anyone with your hands
in your pocket.
- Finns take punctuality for business meetings
very seriously and expect that you will do likewise; call
if you will be more than five minutes late.
- The Managing Director is the decision
- Finns do not make small talk; they get
right to business.
- Doing business in Finland takes time
- Two- to three-minute pauses of silence
are common. Don’t interrupt this silence.
Dining and Entertainment
- The sauna is a venerated Finnish tradition.
Business discussions may be held in a sauna, or a business
lunch may be preceded or followed by a sauna.
- All Finns sauna naked. You do not have
to sauna naked, but it is considered strange not to. You
may wrap a towel around yourself or wear a bathing suit.
- Finns insist on punctuality for social
- Conversation may continue approximately
one to two hours after dinner. Never leave until coffee/dessert/cognac
- Checks in restaurants are never split.
If you make the invitation, you pay. Business can be discussed
at any time during lunch, but is not discussed during
dinner, only after coffee.
- Dress is conservative and fairly informal.
- When invited to someone’s home, always
bring a small gift for the hostess. Give: flowers (odd
numbers are best; white and yellow flowers are for funerals
only; tulips are a favorite), wine, chocolates. Do not
give: potted plants.
- Gifts are normally not exchanged in business
meetings, but small gifts may be appropriate at the successful
conclusion of negotiations. Give: books, cognac, local/national
gifts, recordings, art, glass, liquor (very expensive
- Do not show emotions in public.
- Never ask personal questions, such as
those related to someone’s religion, job or political
Especially for Women
- Women are treated as equals in business
and at home.
- A foreign businesswoman may invite a
Finnish man to dinner and pay without any difficulties.
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