WORKING ABROAD / JUL. 08, 2014
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How to Master Business Etiquette in Iceland

Business values and attitudes vary by location. And if you’re preparing to visit Iceland for a business meeting or conference, you may not know the best way to conduct yourself. However, it’s possible to avoid cultural barriers and establish a good relationship with your counterparts. Here are practical ways to master business etiquette in Iceland. 

Business Meetings

  • A firm handshake is customary when meeting with a business professional in Iceland. Maintain good eye contact as you greet your host. Shake hands before and after meetings with all attendees.
  • Many people in Iceland do not have original surnames. They are known by their first name, followed by ’son’ or ’daughter’ and their father’s Christian name. Therefore, it is okay to greet your business counterpart by his or her first name. You can also use Mr. or Mrs. to greet business professionals. Icelandic people do not use titles when addressing each other.
  • During meetings and negotiations, Icelandic business people do not beat around the bush. They get straight to the point, and they are direct in their speech. Do not be offended by their directness.
  • It is important to make appointments in advance and schedule meeting times based on a 24-hour time clock. Expressions such as half or quarter past the hour are not used in Iceland.
  • Icelandic business people are strong believers in punctuality. Therefore, it is important to arrive on time for meetings, preferably a little earlier than the start time. If you’re running late, immediately call your host.
  • If conducting a business presentation, your supporting data must be precise and to the point.
  • Honesty is important in Iceland. When negotiating, do not make promises that you cannot keep. Do not sugarcoat your information or give false expectations.
  • Regardless of rank in an organization, Icelandic business people view each other as equals. Therefore, it is okay for subordinates to offer opinions or criticize those in power. 

 Business Cards

Exchange business cards during the initial meeting. Since English is widely spoken in the business forum, one side of your card should be translated into English.

Dining Etiquette

It is acceptable to combine business with pleasure, and business dinners are common in Iceland. This is an opportunity for colleagues to establish a personal, trusting relationship. Dinners can be held at a public location or in the home.

Business Attire

Icelandic business people place great emphasis on personal appearances. It is appropriate to dress smartly for any formal business occasion. This includes a business suit, a tie, dress, skirt or blouse. Some companies do permit business casual dress. If you don’t know how to dress, ask a representative from the company in advance.

Gift-Giving 

If you receive an invitation to attend a business function at a private home, it is appropriate to bring a small gift, such as a bottle of wine or a souvenir from your home country.

Final Word

Whether you’re visiting Iceland for a few days or longer, this might be a trip of a lifetime. Not only will you experience a different culture, you’ll meet some amazing people in the process.

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