How to get to know a Swede?

Source: "The Swedish Toolkit"

In many countries around the world, you may naturally greet strangers

And start talking

For no particular reason

You end up talking for a little while

You get curious 

You take a coffee together

Or invite for dinner

You get to know each other around food

You connect intellectually

You decide to organise an activity

You go walking

And end up picking berries

Purposeful activities follow from interesting conversations

And a curiosity for getting to know new people

This is the typical timeline



In Sweden, it works a bit differently

First, you sign up in an organisation

For example The Organisation for the Picking of Berries

There are organisations for everything in Sweden

You meet with the group for the first time in the forest

This may be scary for some

I was holding a lecture a few years ago

Two foreigners came to me after the lecture

And said 

"Where we come from

people invite others to the woods

to kill them!"

Do not worry 

Woods are safe in Sweden

First you meet in the forest

you work purposefully for several hours

mostly in silence

Purposeful communication may take place around practical aspects of picking berries

Months pass by and you meet regularly through the berry picking organisation

After a few more months

When you have talked regularly with one of the other member of the organisation you are part of 

you may invite that person outside the "social bubble" 

And meet alone for a coffee or a dinner

In Sweden, dinners are not a means to getting to know people

They are a result of an established relationship

This is key to understanding the Swedish socialization logic

Do not invite a Swede you just met to share a meal

You may never see him or her again

Get involved first

Take part in organised and purposeful activities

Social norms in Sweden are peculiar

You may need a guide


"The Swedes" and "Working with Swedes" present many of the unknown social rules in Sweden

By Julien S. Bourrelle

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