International Business is an important aspect for the world’s economy. Interacting with other countries connects the world in ways for both the government and for the citizens. Each country the United States connects with influences our country in both positive and negative ways. But one of the most prominent countries that the US does business with is Switzerland. A country comfortably settled in the middle of France, Germany, and Italy, it has made a positive effect on America’s economy and culture. Understanding Switzerland’s culture is an essential piece of knowledge to successfully do business with them.
To conduct with the Swiss, being able to appropriately interact with them face-to-face is crucial. The Swiss value punctuality; being punctual is seen as respectable and organized, and being late is seen as rude and incompetent. The three main languages spoken in Switzerland are German, French, and Italian; thus, greeting them in one of these languages is fitting. Shaking hands with representatives of the business you’re doing business with is vital. When in discussion, avoid personal questions and stay on topic. The Swiss are very private people and tend to be more sincere, so light jokes can be misinterpreted as mockery. They tend to not change their minds easily, but this shouldn’t be seen as stubborn. The Swiss stay true to their values. At the end of the meeting, gifts are exchanged when you’ve concluded successful negotiations, but the gifts should never been too expensive or amazing as it can be seen as bribery, which is practically illegal.
Body language and personal space correlate. Being conservative and remaining polite at all times is essential. The Swiss dress conservatively and poor posture is frowned upon. When interacting with the Swiss, in business situations and others, stand about an arm’s-length away. In public, contrary to American customs, they do not wait in lines when purchasing items in public. Rather, they push their way to the cashier when they believe it is their turn. Because of the high amount of people in such a small country (land area-wise), bumping into people is common and not considered as absurdly rude. In addition, pointing your finger at your head is seen as rude. Refrain from putting your feet on a chair or a table and putting your hands in your pockets when talking to someone. Fidgeting, moving hands, and making sweeping gestures are seen as rude. Dress well, but modestly; the Swiss don’t appreciate huge displays of wealth and extravagance but appreciate clothing that is simple and clean.
Switzerland’s dining behavior is much different than that of America’s. The Swiss are famous for their cooking of cheese fondue, among other culinary achievements. In a restaurant, you would call a waiter by saying “Herr Ober”, and a waitress by saying “Fräulein.” It’s considered rude to wave your hand to signal for the waiter. While eating and dining it is customary to: keep your hands on the table during the...