Finnish Meetings

Meetings are important in the Finnish context and are essential for the sharing of information.

As individuals like to be allowed to get on with their tasks in isolation, a forum is needed for the sharing of knowledge gained and progress made.

Meetings can seem strange affairs to people not familiar with Finland or the Finns – long but quiet. As will be discussed later, (see Communication Style), the Finnish approach to discourse is almost unique in its sparseness and this can lead non-Finns to make all kinds of erroneous judgements with regard to the tenor and effectiveness of a meeting they might attend. It is definitely true to say that, in Finland, the quality of your intervention is of much greater significance than the quantity. Less is very definitely more!

Meetings tend to be structured, follow a pre-set agenda and are orderly with one person speaking at a time – often seeking permission to speak through the Chair. People will be well prepared, as you are not expected to speak unless you have something concrete to contribute. There is likely to be little social chit-chat before getting down to business.

Finns view overt enthusiasm and hyperbole with suspicion and it is better to understate your case than to overstate it. Your actions and words are the basis upon which your worth will be measured. Finns will weigh you up over a period of time, but once they have decided in your favour, you have a relationship for life.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Finland

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

Finland punches above its weight and has done for decades. For a country with a tiny population, geographically remote and with an inclement climate the fact that Finland is considered a world leader in a number of areas is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the resilience and determination of its people.

Maybe Finland’s success is down to its world famous ‘sissu’ (read the country profile to find out what that actually is) or maybe it’s just down to the fact that Finland has been able to develop an education system that is globally envied and endlessly studied. Whatever the reason, Finland is in many ways remarkable. If you are looking for a market with an affluent, sophisticated consumer base which is technologically advanced and open to new ideas, then the idea of doing business in Finland should appeal to you.

Yet Finland is in many ways an enigma. Nordic but not Scandinavian; with a seemingly endless border with Russia but definitely not Slavic. Even the Finnish language has no similarities with its near neighbours. For these reasons Finland is often referred to as a cultural ‘lone wolf’.

Doing business in Finland can bring enormous benefits but Finns are notoriously circumspect. A better knowledge of Finnish business culture can help you overcome any initial reticence you might encounter and enable you to develop deep and long-lasting relationships. Finns are interested in people who are interested in Finland – so show an interest in all things Finnish and you will reap the rewards.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Finnish business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips