Business culture and etiquette in Switzerland
Switzerland is said to be an important place for entrepreneurs. It is well known for its attractive banking conditions and transparent procedures of setting up a business. With four official languages and a variety of national cultures presented at a small territory, Switzerland allows to test a product launch before entering different European markets. Interested?
Attention! They know you are not Swiss! So, it is important to follow the rules of business etiquette.
Punctuality is one of the most important aspects of the Swiss business culture. And what you can expect from a country with the image of world’s best watchmaker. First of all, you need to set up a meeting in advance. At least in a week, better earlier. No need to reconfirm your meeting as it may be understood as the matter of your bad trust. Setting up a meeting in advance is good for both personal and business affairs.
Being late is considered very rude! Any delay should be explained with your apologies. To make a good impression, arrive to the appointment 10-15 minutes in advance.
A greeting in Switzerland starts from various form of “Hello” depending on the area of your presence. In German-speaking part say “Grüezi”, in Geneva-Montreux area use “Bonjour”, in canton of Ticino – “Buongiorno”. It is common for both men and women to use a handshake. It is necessary to keep an eye contact during a handshake.
French-speaking and Italian-speaking Swiss co-workers and friends may embrace each other. German-speaking Swiss colleagues prefer to welcome each other with a firm handshake.
The Swiss like to talk about business. Communication with them is formal. They maintain clear lines between their professional and personal lives when talking. They avoid such topics as someone’s marital status, age or religion, immigration and politics. They address each other by their titles and last names. They also use Monsieur (male) or Madam (female) in French-speaking Switzerland, Herr (male) or Frau (female) in German-speaking Switzerland and Signore (male) or Signora (female) in Italian-speaking Switzerland.
In Switzerland, people are more likely to be successful in business if they dress up well. Business look should scream about your success but not about your wealth. It does not mean that you have to wear top of the top designer brands but the suits should be clean and neat. For business meetings, men should wear suits and ties and women should wear suits or dresses.
Wining and dining
Business lunches and dinners are more common than business breakfasts in Switzerland. They are mostly held in restaurants and spouses are generally present at such events. It is really rare to receive an invitation to someone’s private home. If it happens, it is a great honor.
Table manners are very important for the Swiss. It is necessary to sit all the way back in your chair with both feet on the floor during a meal. Hands can be put in your lap after finishing the course. Smoking at the dinner table is prohibited.