Nowadays, Scandinavia has become a lifestyle for many. We are familiar with Swedish lagom and Danish hygge, we shop at Ikea and decorate our apartments in the Scandinavian way, we even started to organize fika during our work hours. We somehow became majorly influenced by this Swedish way of living. But do we really understand what does it mean? Do we know what is the core of this Swedish personality that we admire so much?
A stereotypical Swede in eyes of many would most likely be a tall, blue-eyed, blonde man who always stays calm and lives his life as an individual. Swedes can come along like this but it is nothing more than a stereotype. Not everyone in Sweden has to be blonde and individual. Individualism, which may be also perceived as coldness, is just a way of not wanting to bother others. In Sweden, your personal life and integrity are respected and no-one will break this boundary unless you actually want to talk about your life of course.
Alongside with the respect for one’s personal life, comes also the respect for the personal space. For those who commute to work every day, this may be very hard to understand but there is no crowding on Swedish bus stops, subway, etc. While waiting for the transport you will find all the Swedes at least a few feet away. No matter if there are only two people under the roof of the bus stop, personal space is way more important than weather conditions and avoiding getting wet on your way to work. The same rule applies when you are already on the bus. First remember to get on the bus through the first door by the driver, never ever use others, these are only for getting off. Inside the bus or subway, you will rarely notice two foreign Swedes sitting next to each other. Swedes really do not like to be close to strangers or even have eye-contact with them just because they do not want to disturb them.
When you achieve something almost impossible and make friends with Swedes, always remember to be on time while going out or just simply going on a meeting. In Sweden, one’s time is something you must learn to respect. Never be late and if you are going to, better have a good excuse because being late is a huge disrespect. During meetings when you have an agenda and everyone is given time frames for their presentation you must not forget to fit in in it and never take over someone’s time. Just be prepared and keep in mind that if you respect their time, they will also respect yours.
Of course, nothing bad would happen. Swedes are also very tolerant, they prefer to avoid conflicts and they usually seek for the consensus. You will never be told that you are doing something wrong as Swedish people would rather remain silent and not get into any uncomfortable situation nor dispute until the problem will just fade and finally go away itself. This is why you should know all the perks of living in Sweden so you could avoid making Swedes feel uncomfortable around you.
Trying to understand the core of Swedish personality may cause you a headache. Just try to remember all the things listed above and making friends with our northern neighbors will be much easier. Always be humble and polite, have a respect for their privacy and remember to never be late!