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Meeting and Greeting

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Greetings are casual, with a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and a smile. Norwegians are egalitarian and casual; they often introduce themselves with their first name only. In some circumstances people may use the honorific title "Herr" (Mr.) or "Fru" (Mrs.) and their surname. You can wait to be invited before moving to first names although most people will start with this. Shake hands and say good-bye individually when arriving or departing. Shake hands with people on a first come first served basis.

Gift Giving Etiquette

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If invited to a Norwegian's home, bring flowers, chocolates, pastries, wine, or imported spirits to the hostess. Flowers may be sent the morning of a dinner party so they may be displayed that evening. Do not give carnations, lilies or white flowers as they are used at funerals. Do not give wreaths, even at Christmas. Do not give even numbers of flowers. A houseplant is well received in the winter months. A bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers is always appreciated. Gifts are opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

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Invitations are generally given verbally. Norwegians are punctual in both business and social situations. Confirm the dress code with your hosts. Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served. Do not discuss business. Norwegians separate their business and personal lives. Reciprocate any invitation. Table manners are more formal than one might expect of a culture that is informal and egalitarian. Hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. Do not begin eating until the hostess starts. Most food, including sandwiches, is eaten with utensils. When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right. The male guest of honour, generally seated to the left of the hostess, thanks the hostess on behalf of the other guests with the phrase "takk for matten" (thanks for the meal). The host makes a small speech and offers the first toast. Toast the host/hostess during the meal. Women may offer toasts. Toasts are made with alcoholic beverages, but not beer. When someone is being toasted, raise your glass, look at the person, take a sip, look at the person again, and then return the glass to the table. Women must put down their glasses first after a toast.

Business Etiquette & Protocol in Norway


If you were to think about the most important cultural attributes that you will see operating in business in Norway, they would be: . Informal style . Individual interests . Transactional relationships . Direct communication

Building Relationships & Communication

. Norwegians are transactional and do not need long-standing personal relationships in order to conduct business. . Nonetheless, they prefer to do business with those they trust, so it is important that you provide information about yourself and the company you represent prior to meeting your business colleagues. . Relationships develop slowly and depend upon the other person being professional and meeting all agreed upon deadlines. . Giving a well-researched presentation indicates that you are serious about conducting business. . The basic business style is relatively informal. . Norwegians respect confident, self-assured businesspeople. . They are excellent time managers who do not require face-to-face contact in order to conduct business. . If you are like-minded, the relationship will develop over time. . Appearing overly friendly at the start of a relationship may be viewed as weakness. Maintaining eye contact while speaking is interpreted as sincerity. . Norwegians are direct communicators. . They have no difficulty telling their colleagues that they disagree with something that has been said. . Their communication is straightforward and relies on facts. . They are conservative and deliberate speakers who do not appreciate being rushed. . They are scrupulous about honesty in communication, often to the point of pointing out the negatives in their own proposals in greater detail than the positives. . Norwegians are not emotive speakers and their body language is subtle.

Business Meeting Etiquette

. Appointments are necessary and should be made as far in advance as possible. . Appointments may be made in writing or by telephone. . If writing, address the letter to the head of the division, even if you do not know the person. . Punctuality is imperative since it indicates trustworthiness. . If you are delayed even 5 minutes, it is polite to telephone and explain the situation. Arriving late without prior notice can damage a potential relationship. . It is often difficult to schedule meetings during July and August, which are popular vacation times; during the two weeks before and after Christmas; and during the week before and after Easter. . Meetings are rather informal. . Send an agenda before the meeting so that your Norwegian colleagues can be prepared. . There is not much small talk. Norwegians prefer to get to the business discussion quickly. . Presentations should be precise and concrete, and backed up with charts, figures and analysis. . Avoid hype or exaggerated claims in your presentation. . Leave time for Q&A at the end of a presentation. Norwegians do not interrupt and will save their questions until you have finished speaking.

Negotiating

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Decisions are consensus driven. Expect decisions to take time as your colleagues must weigh all the alternatives. Present a firm, realistic, and competitive initial price and expect a minimum of bargaining. Price is often the most important deciding factor. Norwegians do not generally give discounts, even to good customers or for large orders. Norwegians are detail oriented. Maintain eye contact while speaking. Negotiations are frank. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics.

. It is imperative to adhere to deadlines and commitments. If you do not, you will not be considered trustworthy, which will destroy the business relationship. . New concepts should be shown to be high quality, practical, and already market tested. . Do not interrupt others while they are speaking.

Norwegian Society & Culture

The Family

. Many families consist mainly of the nuclear family. . Marriage is not a prerequisite to starting a family. . Many couples live together without legalizing the arrangement with marriage. Therefore, it is best not to make presumptions about people's marital status.

Women

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Women are highly respected in business and generally receive equal pay and have access to senior positions. Norwegian women expect to be treated with respect in the office. Businesswomen are direct and can be skilled negotiators. Women may take up to one year's maternity leave at 80% pay or 10 months at 100% pay. If a woman decides to stay home with pre-school children she receives a monthly stipend from the government.

For the globe-trotting international business person doing business in a foreign country offers certain intercultural challenges. Do I shake hands or kiss? What are taboo topics of conversation? What is the best way to negotiate? Understanding a country's business culture, protocol and etiquette is important in achieving success abroad.

This guide to doing business and etiquette in Norway offers some introductory points to some of the above mentioned areas such as business culture and protocol. It is not intended to summarise all 'doing business tips' nor meant to stereotype Norwegians. Rather, it highlights some important key areas for consideration when doing business in Norway such as how to meet and greet, communicate and conduct business meeting

Meeting & Greeting:

Greetings are casual and follow no ritual. A handshake, eye contact and a smile are enough when doing business in Norway. Although Norwegians are relatively informal they will often introduce themselves using their surnames. People move to first names quickly but until that occurs one should address people with "Herr" (Mr.) or "Fru" (Mrs.) plus the surname.

When presenting oneself be sure not to appear too over confident or self-promoting. A cornerstone of Norwegian culture is egalitarianism, embodied in what is called "Jante's Law". Jante's Law teaches people to be modest and humble. This is seen through most people's refusal to criticise others and an awareness not to flaunt their wealth or financial achievements.

Communication:

If one were to sum up the Norwegian communication style it would be informal, transactional and direct.

Due to the influence of egalitarianism, Norwegian business culture lacks airs and graces. On the whole people are generally easy going and informal in business dealings and communication. However, informality does not offer anyone a license to act unprofessionally. It is important to always remain polite and respectful when doing business in Norway.

Although business is transactional in nature, there is still the need to build trust and confidence. This is achieved through building rapport but at the same time providing lots on background information on yourself, experience, qualifications and that of your company. Relationships develop slowly.

Norwegians are straight-talkers and not very emotive. They have no difficulty disagreeing with people or speaking their minds within a business context as this is viewed as separately to personal life. Criticisms and the like are more often than not based on facts rather than opinion. They are scrupulous about honesty in communication, often to the point of pointing out the negatives in their own proposals in greater detail than the positives.

Meetings & Negotiating:

Punctuality is imperative when doing business in Norway. If delayed always call ahead to warn people. Business meetings will have a small amount of small talk but quickly get down to the business at hand. Try and mirror the tempo the hosts are working at. If presenting, ensure you back up arguments or concepts with concrete facts and figures neatly organised in charts. Norwegians are analytical thinkers and this helps them reach conclusions easily. Avoid hype or exaggerated claims in your presentation when in meetings or doing business in Norway.

The People
Simplicity and nature are the core of the Norwegian lifestyle. Tolerance, kindness to each other and independence are highly valued. Criticism of other people or others' systems is frowned upon. "Peace and progress" are mottos in the country that sponsors the Nobel Prizes. Norwegians treasure their landscape, outdoor activity, sailing, crosscountry skiing, etc.

Meeting and Greeting

Shake hands with everyone present--men, women and children--at a business or social meeting. Shake hands again when leaving. When introduced for the first time, address the other by both first and last name, i.e. Mr. John Lund. Norwegians do not use the phrases "Pleased to meet you" or "How are you?" They find these to be surface formalities with no real meaning.

Body Language

There is little personal touching except between relatives and close friends. Do not stand close to a Norwegian, back slap or put your arm around anyone.

Corporate Culture

Norwegians take punctuality for business meetings very seriously and expect that you will do likewise; call if you will be more than five minutes late. Management style is similar to the participative management style in the United States, and employees are asked opinions. Consensus is a high priority, but the boss makes the final decisions.

Dining and Entertainment

Norwegians insist on punctuality for social occasions. 7:00 p.m. means 7:00 p.m. Business lunches are to discuss business, but business dinners are mostly social. Business can also be discussed, but allow the host to open the discussion. For a formal toast, look into the eyes of the person being toasted and give a slight nod, then say Skl. Before putting your glass down, meet the other person's eyes and nod. In a formal setting, the meal ends with the male guest of honor tapping his glass with a knife and thanking the hostess on behalf of all the guests. A little story or joke may accompany the toast. Dinners are generally long with three courses and much conversation. It is impolite to leave immediately after dinner. It is polite to finish everything on your plate. Norwegians do not like to waste food, but you are not expected to overstuff yourself.

Dress

Dress is conservative. For business, men should wear sports jackets, ties or suits. Women should wear suits, dresses or dress pants.

Gifts

When invited to someone's home, always bring a small gift for the hostess. Give: flowers, chocolates, wine, pastries, liquor (very expensive in Norway). Do not give: carnations, bouquet of only white flowers, like lilies (funeral only), wreath (even at Christmas--for funerals only). If invited to a dinner party, it would be a good idea to send flowers to the host the day of the dinner party. Gifts are normally not exchanged at business meetings, but small gifts may be appropriate at the successful conclusion of negotiations. Keep gifts small. An expensive gift may be viewed as a bribe. Give: brandy or whiskey that are good quality but not too expensive.

Helpful Hints

Do not drink and drive. Norway has very strict laws for intoxicated drivers, and the limit for blood/alcohol content is only .05. One beer can put you over the limit. Sincerity is very important. Norwegians often consider Americans too glib and too casual. Never invite someone to dinner or suggest "getting together" without following with a sincere invitation. Norwegians are very proud of their landscape. Take the time to notice it, appreciate it and comment on it. Never lump Norwegians together with Swedes or Danes.

Especially for Women

Foreign women will have no problem doing business in Norway. It is acceptable for a foreign woman to invite a Norwegian man to dinner. She should have no problem paying the bill.