“We are direct. We are to the point. We can be rude”

Norway is open for business. But while the country is ready to welcome overseas investment with open arms, there are certain things you need to know about doing business in the 'Brooklyn of the Nordics'. Here are five...

1. They say what they mean and they mean what they say

There is no such thing as tact in Norway. Direct, to the point and without the slightest hint of a sugar coating, a Norwegian will always tell you exactly what they think. “We are famously direct,” says Sverre Landmark who heads up the marketing for one of the city’s biggest new developments. “Even the Swedes are more gentle with what they say. We just say it. Whatever it might be. If we don’t think something is good, we will say so. It can make us come across as rude. Especially during deals, negotiations and on e-mail. So it’s worth being aware in advance.”

2. If you please

A continuation from the national trait of being direct, Landmark adds there is actually no usable word in the Norwegian language for ‘please’. Given that it is a term that hardly exists, don’t be surprised that it is rarely used. But don’t assume that means the sentiment is not there.

3. Dress down

Business attire in Norway is famously laid back. “We are professional but playful,” says Oslopolitan urbanist Erling Fossen. Full suits are almost as rare as nuanced criticism in Oslo. Jeans, trainers and casual blazers are all acceptable items of workwear. Particularly within local companies.

4. Last-minute negotiations are off the table

Norway is open for business and is keen to attract swaths of overseas investors. But forget this at your peril; just because Norwegians want to work with international players, doesn’t mean they need to. And this puts them in a powerful position when it comes to deal making. And breaking. “If you are just about to close a deal in Norway and you are at the end of a negotiating process, don’t assume the other side will do what it takes to get the deal over the line,” says Peter Jacobsen of investment manager Castelar. “If you pull out four or five more negotiating points you have been keeping in your back pocket at the last minute, the Norwegians won’t care how long they have been working on the deal. They will walk away without giving it a second thought.”

5. Rule breakers

“We are anarchists,” jokes Fossen. “We are not like the other Nordic countries. We don’t like rules and we like to be different. We like to break away from the norm.” Bold ideas, fresh perspectives and a ‘why not?’ attitude all go down well in Norway. So don’t be afraid to make waves.

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