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Meeting Culture in Switzerland

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Meeting culture in Switzerland

Swiss people are willing to work with foreigners, and the business language is often English. However, it is considered polite to check beforehand, whether an interpreter is needed. The business cards can be in English, too. Despite this, it is recommended to provide the key points of your presentation in the local language.

The meetings should be arranged well in advance. The Swiss come to meetings well prepared, and expect their colleagues to do so, too. The dress code is formal: Suit and tie for men, suit or a dress for women. Gift giving is usually not part of the culture, unless the meeting is held at a participant’s home.

During meetings, little to no time is spent on personal relations and chatting. Swiss people shake hands, regardless of genders. The Swiss prefer to go straight to business. Do not try to “break ice” with jokes either, it will be deemed impolite. They also put high value on time, and thus it is extremely important to show up on time. If it is not possible, call beforehand and explain that you will be late.

The Swiss treat their colleagues with cool professionalism. The first names are reserved to close friends and family: other than that, people call either by their formal title or by Mr. or Ms. Surname. They don’t like to discuss their personal matters, either. Asking personal questions is considered insulting.

As mentioned before, the Swiss place great importance on time. They separate their work time from their free time, and thus it is considered a faux pas to call a Swiss businessperson after hours, unless there is an emergency.

The Swiss are also old-fashioned. A businessman expects to pay the meal, and is embarrassed if a female colleague suggests a dinner. If possible, it is recommended to meet over lunch. Despite this, the Swiss are not sexists; both female and male colleagues are treated with same professionalism and respect.

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