How to Do Business in Switzerland
Become a member of TranslationDirectory.com at just
$8 per month (paid per year)
Swiss value cleanliness, honesty, hard work, and material
possessions. Motto: “Unity, yes; Uniformity, no.” They are
very proud of their environment and have a long tradition
of freedom. They value sobriety, thrift, tolerance, punctuality
and a sense of responsibility. They are very proud of their
neutrality and promotion of worldwide peace. The Swiss have
a deep-rooted respect for saving and the material wealth
Meeting and Greeting
- Shake hands with everyone present—men,
women, and children—at business or social meetings.
Shake hands again when leaving.
- Handshakes are firm with eye contact.
- Allow the hosts to introduce you at
- Use last names and appropriate titles
until specifically invited by your Swiss hosts or colleagues
to use their first names. Academic and professional titles
are used frequently.
- First names are reserved for very close
friends and family.
- Poor posture is frowned upon. Do not
stretch or slouch in public.
- Do not point your index finger to your
head. This is an insult.
- Body language varies from region to
region in Switzerland.
- The Swiss take punctuality for business
and social meetings very seriously and expect that you
will do likewise. Call with an explanation if you will
- Business cards in English are acceptable.
Hand your business card to the receptionist upon arrival
for a meeting. Give a card to each person you meet subsequently.
- Generally, English is spoken in business
with foreigners. Inquire beforehand to determine if an
interpreter is needed.
- Business climate is very conservative.
Meetings are generally impersonal, brisk, orderly, planned
and task oriented.
- The Swiss tend to get right down to
business after a few minutes of general discussion.
- Presentations and reports should be
orderly, well-prepared, thorough and detailed.
- The Swiss are fair bargainers but not
hagglers. Discussions are detailed, cautious, and often
pessimistic. Decisions are made methodically.
- It is not acceptable to call a Swiss
businessperson at home unless there is an emergency.
Dining and Entertainment
- In the German parts of Switzerland,
beckon a waiter by saying Herr Ober, and a waitress
by saying Fräulein. It is considered rude to
wave your hand.
- Business luncheons are more common than
- Business entertainment is almost always
done in a restaurant.
- Spouses are generally included in business
- The host proposes the first toast. Don’t
drink until after the toast is proposed.
- Keep your hands on the table at all
times during a meal—not in your lap. However, keep
your elbows off the table.
- Cut potatoes, soft foods and salads
with a fork, not a knife.
- Use eating utensils at all times, including
to eat fruit.
- Break bread with your hands if possible.
Do not use a knife.
- If salt and pepper are not on the table,
don’t ask for them.
- Don’t smoke at the dinner table.
Wait, watch and ask permission before smoking.
- Sample everything offered to you. Try
to finish everything on your plate when dining in someone’s
home. It is impolite to leave food on your plate.
- When you are finished eating, place
knife and fork side by side on the plate at the 5:25 position.
- Leave a party no later than midnight.
- It is considered impolite to ask for
a tour of your hosts’ home. If your hosts want to
give a tour of their home, they will offer.
- Appearance should always be clean and
neat. The Swiss are known for conservative and neat
- Overly casual or sloppy attire is not
- For business meetings, men should wear
suits and ties; women should wear suits or dresses.
- Gifts are normally not exchanged at
business meetings, but small gifts may be appropriate
at the successful conclusion of negotiations.
- Be prepared to give a gift in case you
are given one. A gift with your company logo is acceptable.
- Give books, desk attire, whisky, cognac,
good bourbon, or wine. Do not give anything sharp.
- When invited to someone’s home,
always bring a small gift for the hostess and a small
gift for children.
- Give candy (good quality), pralines,
flowers (unwrap before presenting, odd number), pastries.
- Do not bring large or expensive gifts.
This is considered vulgar and makes receiver uncomfortable.
- Don’t give red roses or carnations
(these imply romance). White chrysanthemums and white
asters are for funerals only.
- It is polite to send flowers to the
hostess before a large party or the next day with a thank
- Be punctual.
- Show great respect for elderly.
- Don’t litter (you will be scolded
- Don’t chew gum or clean your fingernails
- Refrain from putting your hands in your
pockets while talking with people.
- Never put your feet on a desk, chair
Especially for Women
- More women are becoming more and more
involved in business and public life in Switzerland, though
the banking and finance industries continue to be dominated
- Foreign businesswomen will be treated
fairly and professionally in Switzerland.
- Many Swiss businessmen would be embarrassed
if a foreign businesswoman invited them to dinner. Swiss
men are very conservative and still expect to pay for
a meal. If possible, a foreign businesswoman should invite
a Swiss businessman to lunch rather than dinner.
International Education Systems
1814 Hillcrest Avenue, Suite 300
St. Paul, MN 55116
Visit our web sites at
Submit your article!
Read more articles - free!
Read sense of life articles!
this article to your colleague!
more translation jobs? Click here!
agencies are welcome to register here - Free!
translators are welcome to register here - Free!
Please see some ads as well as other content from TranslationDirectory.com: