Knowledge

10 things to know about Swiss Business Culture

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In Switzerland, the business culture it is above all other personal relations. The Swiss business values refer to punctuality, sobriety, responsibility honesty and hard work. This is why is important to know the business culture before starting a new business relationship with a Swiss client or partner.  Here are the top 10 things to know about Swiss business culture.

1. Punctuality

Switzerland is not only known for its Swiss watches and tight train timetable, but also for its general commitment regarding time. In the Swiss business environment, punctuality it is considered a mandatory attribute.  The Swiss business etiquette considers that the customer must not be let alone waiting.

2. The art of conversation

Swiss people are very private regarding their personal life, therefore the small talk should include mainly general conversation subjects. It is also recommended not to interrupt in the middle of a conversation. Being focused on professionalism, jokes should be avoided in the Swiss business environment.

3. Dress code

The Swiss people are known for conservative and neat attire, therefore sloppy attire should be avoided. The most recommended outfit is the suit, both for men and women. Here, pin-stripes are a sign of seniority and highly competitive professional, therefore there are excluded from a junior employee outfit.  Women should keep themselves as natural as possible with a bit of dash. Both should not be ostentative when it comes to outfit.

4. Greetings

The Swiss business culture also puts value on formality, therefore it is considered a sign of respect for the privacy of a colleague, acquaintance or neighbor addressing them by their surname, rather than addressing them by the name. When addressing another person, it is recommended to shake hands using a firm hand and making eye contact.

5. Professionalism

The Swiss people put great value on the professionalism. Of course that for the client it is important to see a friendly face, but the client will appreciate more a team of professionals.

6. Bilingualism

Although Switzerland is a small nation, it has four official languages: Italian, French, German and Romansch. This fact has an important impact on the business culture, as well as on the business environment overall.  Though, generally, English is spoken in business with foreigners, it is recommended to inquire beforehand to ensure the presence of an interpreter.

7. Gifts

In Swiss business culture, gifts should be offered only at the end of the meeting or transaction. It is recommended to be reciprocal and include company logos. Other common business gifts is considered the fine wine.

8. Business hierarchy

Swiss business culture has the client in the center of attention, even before the manager. Off course that this can vary from one company to another, depending on the business model or whether they are in the German, French or Italian areas of Switzerland.

9Business entertainment

Entertainment for business purposes will mostly take place at lunch meetings and restaurants. As a general rule, spouses are also invited to business dinners. However, it is not common to receive an invitation for a business dinner at someone’s home, but in public places. 

10. Body language

The Swiss business culture values moderation in gestures, therefore exaggerate gestures and hand movements may be considered as rude. Also gestures such as pointing the index finger, slouching, stretching or yawning in public are not appreciated. Poor posture should be avoided as it is considered not respectful.

 

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