Company visits and business meetings
Prior appointments are necessary for all business and Government visits. Appointments can be made by letter, fax or email or preferably by phone. Note that the Finnish telephone etiquette requires giving your full name both when calling and answering the phone.
Most Finns introduce themselves officially and state their first name and last name as they shake hands. The visitor should also follow suit. It is advisable to address business people by their titles when first introduced, but it is not necessary after that.
Business meetings and negotiations are usually to the point and begin usually on time with rather little small talk. Negotiations are mainly held in offices, not restaurants. Finns are well prepared for negotiations, and as for presentations, Finns prefer modesty without sacrificing credibility and hearing technical details rather than sales talk.
Seniority is held in high esteem in conservative business branches and governmental positions. More and more younger people of both sexes hold executive positions today and the number of women in managerial positions is quite high. Women and men are treated as equals in work places.
Visitors are normally taken to restaurants or company lodges. There is no strict dress code, but a jacket and tie is recommended for business class restaurants. In business life, long lunches are a rarity and the trend is towards milder alcohol drinks and less volume. Law prohibits smoking in offices and public places. Even at home, smokers seldom smoke inside.
In many cultures, an offhand invitation to visit or call should not be taken literally. However, an invitation by a Finn, to visit for example their home, should be taken literally and accepted. When visiting flowers, wine or products from your country are usual presents. Finns often also invite their guests to the sauna (men and women go separately) and it is polite to accept the invitation, but it is not a must.
Communication styles and culture
Finns tend to speak directly and clearly. Yes means ´yes` and no means ´no`. Finns also behave informally, and if they use names, it will probably be your first name. This might give a false impression of their familiarity. Finns are also very punctual and stick to schedules and also expect it from others. Visitors and guests should arrive at the time stated, whether formal or informal situation.
Finns are not embarrassed by long silences, as some cultures would be. There is hardly conversation for conversation’s sake or a need to fill an empty void. Being silent in Finland means being polite and interested in what the speaker is saying. Although Finns are not always smooth in small talk, safe small talk topics are weather, sports, travelling and hobbies. Avoid speaking about very personal matters or asking direct questions on salaries, taxes, and religion.