Swiss etiquette

  • Hi Eduardo,

    maybe this info helps:

    The People

    The Swiss value cleanliness, honesty, hard work, and material possessions. Motto: "Unity, yes; Uniformity, no." They are very proud of their environment and have a long tradition of freedom. They value sobriety, thrift, tolerance, punctuality and a sense of responsibility. They are very proud of their neutrality and promotion of worldwide peace. The Swiss have a deep-rooted respect for saving and the material wealth it brings.

    Meeting and Greeting

    Shake hands with everyone present -- men, women, and children -- at business or social meetings. Shake hands again when leaving.
    Handshakes are firm with eye contact.
    Allow the hosts to introduce you at parties.
    Use last names and appropriate titles until specifically invited by your Swiss hosts or colleagues to use their first names. Academic and professional titles are used frequently.
    First names are reserved for very close friends and family.
    Body Language

    Poor posture is frowned upon. Do not stretch or slouch in public.
    Do not point your index finger to your head. This is an insult.
    Body language varies from region to region in Switzerland.
    Corporate Culture

    The Swiss take punctuality for business and social meetings very seriously and expect that you will do likewise. Call with an explanation if you will be delayed.
    Business cards in English are acceptable. Hand your business card to the receptionist upon arrival for a meeting. Give a card to each person you meet subsequently.
    Generally, English is spoken in business with foreigners. Inquire beforehand to determine if an interpreter is needed.
    Business climate is very conservative. Meetings are generally impersonal, brisk, orderly, planned and task oriented.
    The Swiss tend to get right down to business after a few minutes of general discussion.
    Presentations and reports should be orderly, well-prepared, thorough and detailed.
    The Swiss are fair bargainers but not hagglers. Discussions are detailed, cautious, and often pessimistic. Decisions are made methodically.
    It is not acceptable to call a Swiss businessperson at home unless there is an emergency.
    Dining and Entertainment

    In the German parts of Switzerland, beckon a waiter by saying Herr Ober, and a waitress by saying Fräulein. It is considered rude to wave your hand.
    Business luncheons are more common than business breakfasts.
    Business entertainment is almost always done in a restaurant.
    Spouses are generally included in business dinners.
    The host proposes the first toast. Don't drink until after the toast is proposed.
    Keep your hands on the table at all times during a meal -- not in your lap. However, keep your elbows off the table.
    Cut potatoes, soft foods and salads with a fork, not a knife.
    Use eating utensils at all times, including to eat fruit.
    Break bread with your hands if possible. Do not use a knife.
    If salt and pepper are not on the table, don't ask for them.
    Don't smoke at the dinner table. Wait, watch and ask permission before smoking.
    Sample everything offered to you. Try to finish everything on your plate when dining in someone's home. It is impolite to leave food on your plate.
    When you are finished eating, place knife and fork side by side on the plate at the 5:25 position.
    Leave a party no later than midnight.
    It is considered impolite to ask for a tour of your hosts' home. If your hosts want to give a tour of their home, they will offer.

    Appearance should always be clean and neat. The Swiss are known for conservative and neat attire.
    Overly casual or sloppy attire is not appreciated.
    For business meetings, men should wear suits and ties; women should wear suits or dresses.

    Gifts are normally not exchanged at business meetings, but small gifts may be appropriate at the successful conclusion of negotiations.
    Be prepared to give a gift in case you are given one. A gift with your company logo is acceptable.
    Give books, desk attire, whisky, cognac, good bourbon, or wine. Do not give anything sharp.
    When invited to someone's home, always bring a small gift for the hostess and a small gift for children.
    Give candy (good quality), pralines, flowers (unwrap before presenting, odd number), pastries.
    Do not bring large or expensive gifts. This is considered vulgar and makes receiver uncomfortable.
    Don't give red roses or carnations (these imply romance). White chrysanthemums and white asters are for funerals only.
    It is polite to send flowers to the hostess before a large party or the next day with a thank you note.
    Helpful Hints

    Be punctual.
    Show great respect for elderly.
    Don’t litter (you will be scolded publicly).
    Don’t chew gum or clean your fingernails in public.
    Refrain from putting your hands in your pockets while talking with people.
    Never put your feet on a desk, chair or table.
    Especially for Women

    More women are becoming more and more involved in business and public life in Switzerland, though the banking and finance industries continue to be dominated by men.
    Foreign businesswomen will be treated fairly and professionally in Switzerland.
    Many Swiss businessmen would be embarrassed if a foreign businesswoman invited them to dinner. Swiss men are very conservative and still expect to pay for a meal. If possible, a foreign businesswoman should invite a Swiss businessman to lunch rather than dinner.

    Paul 07 Jun 2007, 05:25 - Report
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Swiss culture & customs

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