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Characteristics of Swedes and Tips About How to Behave in Sweden

Updated on October 18, 2016
The Swedes, weird people?
The Swedes, weird people? | Source

During my time writing and from my life experience, I have found that there are differences in how people behave and their views on different things. The difference is, to some extent, due to the country they are born and raised in. The differences are quite small but, yet, significant and can create both wonder and misunderstandings.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could have access to manuals about behavior and thoughts of people from other nationalities? It would make interactions between people from different nationalities easier, and it would certainly make it easier for me, as a Swede. But because such a manual isn’t available or so easy to find, I will instead describe the characteristics of a stereotypical Swede and typical Swedish behavior.

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The Swedish Mentality

Ake Daun, a professor of ethnology at Stockholm University, wrote a book called the Swedish Mentality (1989), which is a gold mine for someone interested in this issue. He examined how the Swedes are perceived by other nationalities and came up with the following:

Swedes are perceived as chilly and distancing. Many of those who responded to the survey say that they have great difficulties to understand the Swedish temperament. The Swedes are also perceived as “socially closed” and “spiritually empty”. And because they are often quiet they are also perceived as smug!

In another study done by the Swedish National Board, immigrants to Sweden from Chile, Iran, Turkey, and Poland expressed laudatory words about equality, solidarity, freedom, and sound regulatory. The only thing they had trouble with was the Swedes! Their opinions about the Swedes was: “heart is missing," "sluggish mind," "cowardly, cold, shy people, and lack of close encounters”.

So, in summery, the typical Swede is socially closed, spiritually empty, missing a heart, sluggish in the mind, cowardly, cold and shy, and holds a distance.

Wonderful people, the Swedes, don’t you think? Who wouldn't want to meet such a person? And why am I pointing this out for you? When I read this it struck me as very interesting. Being Swedish, at first I couldn't see this at all. But, slowly, it began to make some sense to me why they responded this way and I will try to explain.

The traits aforementioned mainly concern situations wherein a Swede meets a stranger. I do believe that we have a much more open and warmer connection with people whom we know.

Is your view of the Swedes consistent with the description above?

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An Attempt to Explain Swedish Behavior

Socially closed

In Sweden we have a proverb that every Swede knows: “Talking is silver, silence is gold.” We believe it is polite to listen, and it is a way to show respect. We do not like to interrupt the one who speaks, and it is also true that we probably unconsciously seek consensus in a conversation. Although we may disagree with some of the things the other person says, we avoid open confrontation with strangers. But I can understand that to have a conversation with somebody who just nods and says yes isn’t much of a conversation! For two Swedes, this isn’t a problem because we just take turns talking, and we also understand that silence is a possible message that the other person disagrees.

We are also very private and “want to be left alone” by strangers. We have an invisible “private zone” of about a one meter radius, and if a stranger steps over those invisible lines without a need, we feel very uncomfortable and even threatened. This doesn’t apply when there is limited space. In that case, it is OK to step over the invisible line. In the company of strangers most of us feel inclined to talk, so maybe that is why Swedes are considered to be socially closed.

There are some unwritten laws that apply to this.


How to Behave in Sweden

Don’t look directly at another person in an elevator or on the subway. It is better to look at anything else. Most people look down at their shoes or read the ads on the wall. This is even more important if you have to stand within someone's private zone. To look directly at a person you stand close to is considered to be cheeky, rude, and suggests an aggressive or sexual approach from you.

Do not say “hi” to a stranger unless you have a good reason. If you do, speak about the weather, mention that the bus is late, or something similar. The typical Swede doesn’t normally start conversations with strangers and will not just ramble on about things with someone they don't know.

Do not take a seat in a location next to a Swedish on the bus, theatre, or subway if there are plenty of seats available anywhere else. If you do, a Swedish will feel uncomfortable and become suspicious. They will be convinced that you are up to something bad! Remember, there is the “private zone.”

Learn how to stand in line properly. The Swedes are the masters of standing in line and we wait for our turn with great patience. Do not try to squeeze in or stand to close to the person in front of you. Standing too close to the person in front of you leads to body contact and you will cause a very unpleasant experience for a Swede. You will certainly get an angry look, and the Swede will also try to move further away from you by taking a step in some available direction. But, the Swede will almost certainly hold his/her place in line. Remember, we are very patient and we will keep our place in line!

Some Facts About Sweden

-Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe

-Sweden is the third largest country in Western Europe

-The forest area in Sweden is 53%

Additional Facts About Swedish Culture

Showing Feelings

I am afraid that it is the same when it comes to showing feelings. The Swedes do not show their feelings in front of strangers if it can be avoided. If we for some reason don’t like a person, we show our dislike by simply avoiding that person. We show our dislike by not saying "hi", and we will look down or, if possible, just avoid meeting that person. Being the other person, you will never know why because there isn’t going to be an explanation or a confrontation, unless you have really made the Swede angry!

To show aggression in a Swedish group is such a taboo. Getting really angry in public will lead to many puzzled and condescending glances. You must know how to behave and restrain yourself, or you will be regarded as a man/woman without self control.

Also, we usually do not cry in public. If we do, we try to stop crying, or hide the fact that we are crying. Crying is mostly seen as a sign of weakness or lack of self-control. But, laughing in public is okay, and it is very common. I can’t really tell if we laugh more or less than other nationalities, but we are not so good at showing warm feelings to people whom we don’t know very well. Swedes tend to only show their feelings among friends and family.

We have No Problem Talking Bbout Feelings or Sex

Although Swedes don't like to display their feelings, they have no problem with public discussions about feelings or sex. In these cases we are very open-minded, and it takes a lot to make a Swede embarrassed.

We believe That the Society Should Provide Safety For Us

This can be seen as a dependence on government, and some may think that we blindly obey the government. But I see it more as we have confidence in something that actually works. We respect our authorities not because we fear someone above us, but because we feel content that both authorities and those below have made a collective agreement as a community. Democracy is very important and deeply rooted in Sweden.

Sporadic Contact with Relatives

Compared to other nations, we have a more sporadic contact with parents, which is something many immigrants interpret as callousness.

Feminism and Equality

Feminism is strong in Sweden, and equality has come a long way. Some argue that gender equality has gone a little bit too far, and if men and women become too alike, it will kill the eroticism between the genders.

The Jante Law or the Law of Jante

One can’t forget to mention the Law of Jante or, as we say, the Jante Law. The writer Aksel Sandemose lived in Denmark and wrote the book in which Jante Law is described in Norwegian. Jante Law is actually a fictional law and has had a great impact in Sweden. It formulated into words the unwritten law that says you should not be different or think that you are better than anyone else, in any way. Jante Law was of greater importance in the past when most people lived in rural areas. Today, Law of Jante has increasingly lost its importance. Jante Law may be on its way out, but it has influenced the Swedish style of today and is the bases for the Swede’s restraint. The law has been very negative on Swedish culture because it restrained people by making them think that they should not be unique, and that they should rather conform with everyone around them. However, some feel that the decline in popularity of the Law of Jante will cause Swedes to hold a mentality that advocates looking out for only for oneself, without caring about others, which is the opposite of Jante.

Personally, I like the Swedish way of being polite and to not seek trouble if it isn’t necessary. I also like their view of equality, and the great care they have for others. The thing we may lack is the ability to show our feelings and our warm hearts more easily.

More facts about Sweden!

 
 
Capital
Stockholm
Currency
Swedish Krona SEK
Population
9,4 million
Government
Constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary democracy
Parliament
The Riksdag 349 seats
National Day
6 June
Area
174,000 square miles
Highest point
Kebnekaise

My Experience as a Swede

Writing in another language than your own is a challenge that I can recommend to everyone! I love to meet wonderful people from other parts of the world, and the interaction with people from other countries is a big part of the joy with writing for this site.

But, writing in a second language also has its drawbacks since reverse or odd sentence structure sometimes creeps into my text. It is also much harder to be funny in another language because comedy has a lot to do with sentence structure and slang. And slang isn’t included in ordinary school English! I imagine that some have been wondering about my writing, and, even more, about the topics I write. My intention is to slowly melt in more and more, while trying to keep my originality as a Swede.

Has your view of the Swedes changed after reading this article?

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This video says it all!

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    • profile image

      Dominique 4 weeks ago

      I am from Malaysia and been here in Östersund, Sweden for 14 months now. I'm here because of my fiance who is a Swede. For 14 months here I don't know anyone. People don't even smile at you and I'm left feeling like an 'Iceberg' but now after reading this article it makes so much sense like Thank You!!!!

      I can't imagine growing old here, I'm 46.

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      Alex 2 months ago

      Response to Laura Zildjian:

      I need to ask you a few questions: Were you born in Sweden? Yes or no?

      Have you ever lived in Sweden, and if yes, for how many years?

      If you weren't born in Sweden, may I ask where exactly were you born?

      If you haven't lived in Sweden at all, then may I ask how exactly have you come across knowledge on the Swedish society? Books? Magazines? Popular culture? Printed news? Online news? Friends? Relatives? Temporary Swedish acquaintances abroad? Swedish expats? Swedish exchange students?

      I have to admit one thing though in the Swedes' favor: when they go abroad, they tend to open up, they become warmer or more social. In other words: they behave more HUMAN and less like CYBORGS.

      Why you are enamored by Sweden? Because Sweden has an exceptional PR machine designed to give you a glorified, rosy impression of Sweden being basically a "heaven on Earth"? And that's why tends of thousands of ETHNIC SWEDES are LEAVING Sweden EVERY YEAR, because it's such a paradise?

      If Sweden were to become integrated into the United States of America as the 51st State (God forbid - I would feel sorry for the USA), Sweden would be the poorest state in all of the USA. Impressive huh?

      You may like Sweden Laura, and you are entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Facts are facts.

      Speaking of theology: enlightened people should be engaged in science and spirituality - not religious pagan superstition. If there is God at all, He created all of the world and everything in it. There is nothing "holy" or "sacred" about Scandinavia. Same planet, same universe. And their Norse mythology and religion is dead. So is their practice of Christianity by the way.

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      Alex 2 months ago

      Response to Maggie down below:

      Unless you have lived in Sweden an entire lifetime you will have difficulties seeing the truth, subtleties and nuances behind the facade.

      Swedes in general - not all of them, but in general, give the (false) impression of being "level headed" and "polite" and "considerate". This is just a facade. Remember that. Just a facade.

      In fact, they may say something utterly disrespectful to you - i.e. they might "spit" you in your face, only they choose (out of cowardice - yes they ARE heartless cowards) to do so in a very quiet, nuanced way, expressing themselves in an ambiguous manner. Instead of saying directly in your face "I like you" or "I don't like you", they might put on a false show, produce a deceitful insincere smile, hotch, look embarassed, and say something in terms of:

      "Oh no, I have nooothing against you, .....I'm just soooo busy. I just don't have time to maintain our friendship which we have had for the past 10-20 years, I can't answer the phone, I have no time seeing you anymore, I look increasingly irritated in your company and I pretend I don't see you on the street, but I have noooothing (wink wink) against you."

      Now speaking of "politeness":

      There are many cases in Sweden were ethnically Swedish women have been sexually abused and raped by migrants from the Middle East and Africa, or people being robbed and beaten up on the streets, and people on the streets rarely reacted to what they saw. Multiple newspaper articles and testimonies confirm that over and over again. I'm not making this up. It's real

      I guess they didn't want to "disturb" and help the rape victims or the beaten up and robbed people on the streets out of politeness? That's very considerate indeed.

      Speaking of level-mindedness: Swedes might get upset that you're cutting the line or that you're picking berries from people's private allotments, but maintaining law and order on the streets, putting killers, rapists, racists, Nazis, Islamists and serious criminals behind bars and preventing ISIS terrorists from returning to Sweden is obviously too much to ask from the "polite" and "level headed" Swedes.

      No, Swedes are not polite. They are insincere, deceitful, false, heartless, gutless and cowardly.

      I suggest you deep study Swedish history of the past century, and read about Swedish cooperation with Nazi Germany against Jews, Swedish racist hostility to Jews and the State of Israel, Swedish racist hostility to Black Africans, Swedish racist hostility to Poles, Russians and Eastern Europeans, Swedish racist and patronizing hostility to Southern Europeans, Swedish hostility to USA during the Cold War, and Swedish propensity to identify themselves with third world banana republics while mocking or questioning Western liberal democracies.

      Speaking of tolerance: why are almost all major Swedish cities deeply segregated - racially, ethnically and culturally? Why is it that almost all politicians in power are ethnic Swedes, despite Sweden being a multi-cultural society today?

      The Swedish educational system is falling apart, Sweden is lagging behind the OECD countries in terms of education, only 27% of Swedes have an academic education, the Swedish health care system is falling apart, the Swedish police is understaffed and outnumbered and outgunned by migrant criminal gangs of primarily Arab and Moslem origins, the Swedish national defense practically doesn't exist anymore, crime levels all across Sweden are rising, Sweden is getting increasingly politically radicalized and polarized etc etc etc.

      And please remember: every single thing that I've stated is TRUE and FACTUAL and can be CONFIRMED by Swedish and non-Swedish sources online. Google all this stuff and you'll find it.

      Is this a "level-headed" society?

      Just give me a break.

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      Laura Zildjian 2 months ago

      Wow I almost am scared to say something nice about the Swedes after reading Alex and Ray. I know someone now however, who has met the top Swedish metal band and the band members were so nice to that person and helped them with their problems. I have always been enamored with Sweden and have no idea why. Since age 9 by school training I have been a francophile and it runs in the family. Not only do I love that language but my grandmother was a French prof. I think I've been drawn to Sweden because Odinism is the only true religion, the non-racist type of Odinism, that is. I am going to start revering Odin and Thor like my Pagan friend. I have been an atheist, but this 9-11 I had an epiphany. I think there gotta be a hell for 9-11, Barcelona, Manchester, Auschwitz, Kosovo, Khmer Rouge etc. to have happened. All those perps and their evil souls are going straight to hell and will burn there forever. Well if there's a hell and evil, there's also divine good. That fact that on 9-11 a follower of Odin and Thor came into my life to show me the Way speaks volumes. Scandinavia I see is like sacred ground. It had always been calling. Northern Europe was the last part of the continent to Christianize and has never bought into Christianity as much as other parts of Europe. Pagan traditions persist there to this day even among the non-Pagans. I saw this. They include the maypole and nudity. The stereotype of women running around without tops in Sweden is embarrassing but most certainly true and for females age 15 to 90. OK the 90 year old might keep her bra on not to shock folks. I saw it with my own two eyes. I was very much an outsider for wishing people would keep their clothes on. I am more comfortable with bodies now, so it shouldn't be a problem when I soon again visit. I'm on my way. Praise Thor.

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      Maggie 2 months ago

      Thank you for this article :) I don't think that Swedes are that bad at all, to be honest I can relate to the reasons underlying most of these habits. You are not heartless cowards, but level-headed, polite, considerate people. I am from Poland and I have always felt that I don't fit in. Now it turns out that I am mentally a Swede :)

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      Ray 3 months ago

      A long-winded piece confirming the fact that Swedes are a bunch of miserable, socially constipated boring cowards of the first order.

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      ALI HADI 3 months ago

      I agreed upon with the searcher or report above that Swedes are very reserved and very difficult to understand them while my experience living 20 years up there.But contrast they are so polite,honest, structured people,helpful, dislike conflicts..etc

      Personally, I am so grateful for Swedish people.

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      Alex 4 months ago

      I am not Swedish, and I was born and raised in Sweden, and I have lived in that country all of my adult life.

      Due to the unwaveringly and stubbornly cold, indifferent and psychopathic behavior of the Swedes in general, I ended up being all alone. I felt depressed and even suicidal.

      No matter what I did, no matter what I said, I was always met with the same condescending, patronizing, racist, smug look on their faces - as if I was a subhuman.

      I believe there is a comment down below which correctly stated that the Swedes are the most unnationalistic people in the world, the couldn't care less about their own country and they seem to think of dark haired non Swedes such as myself, as "subhumans".

      No disrespect, but noone will ever convince me that the traits and the characteristics of a typical Swede are "normal". Swedes aren't normal. Something is extremely wrong with them.

      How can people be so cold, so indifferent, so smug, so racist, so patronizing? And why are the Swedes "afraid" of strangers, and needing to keep their distance? I love talking to strangers! Openly in public! And I love talking straight to someone how I feel about them, because that's the only decent and honest thing to do.

      Swedes are afraid of honesty, I thirst and hunger for honesty. Swedes believe that expressing anger in public means you have no self control, and I say expressing anger in public makes you a human being with feelings and not a psychopathic Swedish cyborg.

      And speaking of democracy, how can Swedes on one hand claim that they support an "open and free and democratic" society, and yet on the other hand you aren't allowed to even speak your mind on any matter, you are expected to become a mindless cyborg and adapt to the Swedish collective, you aren't allowed to express your feelings, you aren't allowed to talk to strangers, you aren't allowed to be financially wealthy because that creates resentment and jealousy etc etc etc.

      I something actually allowed in Sweden?

      Sweden is in my mind the ideal place for a new Hitler or Stalin. Sweden is perfect for autocratic people. Everyone disliking each other, being suspicious of each other, reporting each other to the authorities, everybody needing to conform - that sounds awfully a lot like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

      No offense, but I think that Swedes are amongst the most repulsive people I have ever met. And since you live in a "democratic" society you must accept what I say, nod quietly and show no anger. Remember your psychopathic "code" of Swedish behavior. Self restraint. Remember?

      Even corpses and cyborgs are more human than Swedes.

      And please remember: I have legitimate reasons to feel the way I feel. I have had a terrible life in Sweden.

      Behaving like a Swede would feel like being a lobotomized zombie wearing a straight jacket and a gag.

      Thank God I don't live in Sweden anymore.

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      Laura Zildjian 5 months ago

      Maybe I should be a little more fair. I have now seen over 50 videos of Koti and Joacim and their bands. The first 10 videos were not pleasant as described but they seemed a lot more emotive in the others. I can't neglect either that the one band does a Viking act. I can't just compare everyone to Iron Maiden and Metallica who are all smiles. However, I am very disappointed that I have contacted members of my second Swedish host family on FB, and they won't give me the courtesy of a hello. Aren't they going to get over it? It's been 33 friggin years! They got to realize that they were my summer in '84 and if I was a pain in the butt to them, I was a friggin teenager!! And I went back and visited when I was 20. They got mad then b/c they found out that not only am I not Swedish, I'm don't have European ancestry. Still I forgive these petty bigots, and if I had some way of getting back to your lovely country, I'd do it and study your beautiful language and check out all the metal bands.

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      Laura Zildjian 5 months ago

      I was a Swedish exchange student in 1983. I was 16. The first host family didn't work out at all. Their 18 year old son wouldn't even acknowledge my existence b/c I was a girl. The Scandinavian machismo is incredible. I see that when I watch my favorite singer, Koti. He looks so much like the host family's son . Does he ever smile? Is his job as world's top operatic /metal singer so terrible? The only time I saw him laugh was when he nearly lost his hand from the pyrotechnics at a performance. In an interview he went into gory detail & then laughed that he missed 4 lyric lines, something unprecedented, but bragged he then sang the whole set before falling into a sea of pain. OK Koti is Finnish, but Joacim from of HF (Goteborg) seems to have similar temperament. The band recently did a funny tour bus video, but they seem considerably less jocular on stage. Christina you have helped with your feedback that Swedes are good listeners, don't like to aggrandize themselves etc.

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      Aussie 6 months ago

      Swedes are not like this at all. I've lived in Sweden for 10+ years and I can easily say they the kindest and warmest people I know.

      Of course you can say hi and sit next to anyone, even strike up an conversation. Common respect and decency goes a long way, something you probably lack since you've been getting this response from Swedes.

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      lina 8 months ago

      I must be alien (my whole Swedish family) as we're not like stated above.. Lol

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      G. Erickson 10 months ago

      Wow, I'm from the USA and decided to randomly do a search on Swedish characteristics and came across this post. My Dad was born in Sune and his parents brought him to the states in the early 1920s. Anyway, I read the characteristics and it sounded like it was describing me. I guess I got that from my Dad and my grandparents. My wife keeps telling me I'm just like my Dad. It makes sense now.

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      Karen 10 months ago

      I have just recently become aware of my Swedish background and it certainly makes sense to me. I am acutely aware of my personal space and defensive of it. Also, it takes a lot to gain my trust and for me to share personal things with others. I'm more Swedish than I knew!

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      Alan R Lancaster 15 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Ingmar Bergman, Ingrid Bergman, Axel Munthe, Greta Garbo, Abba, Bjorn Borg, Sven Goran Erickson ... None and all are typical Swedes that we couldn't attribute to Englishmen/women.

      Christina there are traits you've raised here that you have in common with the Danes, Icelanders, Norwegians, Scots, Northumbrians etc etc. Right down to Lincolnshire and East Anglia the mix is pretty much the same and attitudes toward 'foreigners' don't vary a lot. The 'typical Englishman' - whatever that is, what with the concrete mixer of time between the Celts, Romans, Angles (Aengle), Jutes (Jyllaender), Saxons (Seaxne), Danes, Normans (a mix of West Norse, Celt and Dane) and subsequent refugees such as Huguenots, Jews, Chinese etc - is aloof, not easy to get to know... Recognise the description?

      I lived in Austria for three years, by and large in the 'deep south' being more forthcoming, and in Vienna. Vienna was a 'different kettle of fish' (Old English phrase, there's bags more) altogether. More distant on the whole, but maybe that has more to do with being city dwellers. I found it harder to get to know some, where others were easily approached. I think that was a 'class' issue.

      Closer to home, it's largely the same thing: class. It's like that in London and we're like that in the North (of England) as well, the more basic your origins the more approachable you are. It's a 'hangover' of the Industrial Revolution'. The Danes settled in most places between the Tees (my area) and East London (east of the River Lea). Although people in these areas are friendly in the East Midlands they're harder to get to know (I lived in Nottingham for three years in the late 60s).

      As for contact with Swedes, I've got a little story: On Ibiza back in 1976 I was at Cala Bassa, standing by the bar waiting for a young fellow to finish negotiations for credit on his booze. The barman wasn't going to give in and smiled to reinforce his 'regret'. The young fellow turned to me and said something I took to be Danish (there were masses of both at San Antonio). I said, "I don't speak Danish". His eyes nearly popped out of his head and he blurted, "DANISH?! Danish?!" Saying no more he stamped away back to his mates on the beach, who were already far out of cheap Spanish champagne. The barman grinned and went back to cleaning the counter. I've never met any others to speak to.

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      LY 18 months ago

      Thank you for your article. It's helped me a lot.

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      dric123 24 months ago

      I think Swedish people are quite different out of Sweden. Swedish society is very conformist and quite strictly, although discretely, governed by a fairly rigid set of social codes and rules. I lived there for a few years, and in the North, which may be more like the Sweden discussed in this article than the South. I left about 18 months ago and it has taken me some time to re-adjust. Its not a very easy country to get yourself established. The bureaucracy is mindblowing and it makes you understand why most Swedes don't step far from very tried and tested paths - they stick with the same friends, mostly in the same towns, with the same jobs. Finding a job is almost impossible because Swedish society can often seem like a secret club that you are not and never going to be part of. I am amazed how easy it is to come to the UK as a foreigner and establish yourself within a few months. Not so in Sweden. I just found Swedish people hard work. They like to kick you when you are down 'enacting the lagom rule' and kick you when you are up 'enacting the Jante law'. Everyday social interaction is a constant series of being ignored, customer service that implies that you should be grateful that they are serving you and generally being told that you're behaviour is unacceptable (and like the article says, that could be people you have met not saying hello to you). If people welcome you into their fold then that is high honour indeed but it won't take you doing much wrong in order have failed some lengthy initiation period. Swedish society is fine for Swedish people although I think many of them bemoan its uptightedness. If you are born into it you will understand well the rules and you are very much part of something bigger than yourself. Trying to get into it as an adult is very difficult without having, by chance, developed a Swedish style personality.

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      Udog8 2 years ago

      Very interesting. Their culture will be challenged strongly over the next decade. Let hope we don't loose their wonderful traditions.

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      shaz khan 2 years ago

      i have a swede friend i love her but she never expressed her feeling for me although she talks to me but does,nt shows her intentions about this ,,,will anybody tell me about this why she is behaving like this ,,,,

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      Ryan 2 years ago

      So, Swedes don't say, "Hi" to people they don't know, and if they don't say, "Hi", it means they don't like you for some reason. In other words, they basically hate strangers. Sounds like hell to me.

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      valentina 2 years ago

      hi! i an asian pilipina have swedish bf... all i can say..he is the sweetest guy i ever met!

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      lars 2 years ago

      Well I'm from Northern Germany (Kiel) and a very big part of the mentality just sounds so much like ours. It's really interesting how big the difference gets already in Germany. The looking at each other part is just more like "try to avoid being noticed when staring". Even tho space and rules like queues are followed pretty strictly here.

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      Sanjukta 2 years ago

      Something I'd like to add, how humanitarian is their moral culture! The Jante Law. :)

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      Sanjukta 2 years ago

      I liked most of their personality traits except few. I would like be among them someday. I'm an Indian.

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      SaraKeiju 2 years ago

      Although born in America, my family is Swedish. I am never able to understand why people have this perception of Swedes because I find their behavior to be indicative of sincerity and respect for others, amongst other things. In contrast, I feel isolated yet [paradoxically, perhaps] targeted by the attempts at "friendliness" so common here. I can never tell what these others are actually thinking because their words insist one thing, and this makes me terribly uncomfortable (I only ever say something if I mean it). The taciturn one, however (who almost always turns out to be Scandinavian, interestingly), is very easy for me to read. I always seem to know what they going to say next if they say something. Communication is so much easier. This makes life in America very difficult.

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      Author

      Christina Lornemark 2 years ago from Sweden

      poetryman6969, That will do:) To see some reasons can make us more understandable and isn't that what it is all about? Trying to understand one another and accept that we have different ways and customs. We don't have to like or agree but if we understand and are tolerant towards each other, than we have come a long way towards understanding. Thanks for your comment and for reading!

      Tina

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      Author

      Christina Lornemark 2 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Consu, and thanks for the positive comment. I agree with you, there are nice and not so nice people everywhere and with some people it just doesn't click. I took a trip to Gotland last year and I simply loved the island and especially Visby. Good to hear that you like it to. I have met many people from Gotland and I also think they are special and a bit different from the ordinary Swede, at least different from Swedes in some parts of Sweden. Even their dialect is wonderful! I appreciate that you took the time to leave a comment and for your view on this.

      Tina

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I don't know that my opinion changed any but I can see some reasons for some behaviors.

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      Consu 2 years ago

      Dear Christina,

      thanks for an inspiring swirl on the 'secret life' of Swedes!

      I have lived for extended periods of time in several countries, from Germany (my husband is German) to the UK, to the States, Canada, Norway and Sweden. I spent a couple of years in Kiruna and I did not like the people's mentality even though most of them were nice. You know when it just does not click between you and them? Nothing personal in a way, I had the same experience in the UK. Since December I live on the beautiful island of Gotland and boy, what a change! People are warm and open here! Even too physical for me, just like the Norwegians! They are always hugging you! And strangers even smile at each other! I am really sorry to read all the other posts with bitter comments on the Swedes. Surely they are no saints, assholes are everywhere. But at the end of the day I am happy to be here and I don't want to leave. Be patient and give them some time, they are still human after all! The anthropologist has spoken... :)

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      Christina Lornemark 2 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Steve, and thanks for your view on Swedes and Sweden even if you don't like Sweden so much anymore. As a Swede, I have also had "friends" who say one thing and mean something totally different but I don't regard them as friends anymore. You will never know why or what you did wrong because they will never say it to your face, and you have no chance to understand either. I do hope you will meet some Swedes who are different and can stand up for their thoughts. But then again, it all depends on which country you compare us with. I do hope there is a Viking hidden inside us somewhere!

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      Steve 2 years ago

      I have lived in Sweden for the last 12 years and I can say that at first I liked Swedes and Sweden. Now not so much. The men I find to be cowardly and 'pussy whipped' by the women. A lot of the men in Sweden have no opinion on anything and are so fearful of saying anything that will upset anyone that they'd rather die than say something wrong. Its embarrassing!

      Swedes will also smile at you and shake your hand and say nice things to your face only then, stab you in the back. They pretend to be your friend and 'on your side' then you find out they're not. Its just cowardice and the fact that they have no 'balls' to stand up and be counted when necessary.

      The women have more balls than their male counterparts and you will get a lot of 'attitude' from many of them, more from them than their men probably because most of the men have been mentally castrated.

      Sweden as a country is wonderful, clean and mostly safe. The people of Sweden.....well, they used to be Vikings.....what the f**k happened guys?

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      Christina Lornemark 2 years ago from Sweden

      Hi anticipatory! I am glad to know that you liked this article. I hope you can visit Scandinavia someday and since you feel at home with the Swedish characteristic I might find myself at home if I visit your country too. Thanks for the comment!

      Tina

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      Tammy Wakeford 2 years ago from UK

      Hi, enjoyed reading your article. Am trying to absorb myself in all things Swedish... Having read your article, the character description sounds just like me! And I'm Welsh!... Maybe that's why I've developed a liking for all things Scandinavian. Hope to visit some day soon. Keep up the writing :)

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Not a Swede, Oh, your experiences in Sweden sound really depressing. And I am sorry to hear that your relationship didn't work out. It is awful to waste many years and end up not knowing why it ended.

      I disagree with you about women's bodies being public property. Our bodies may be public but our bodies are our own, never the property of someone else.

      I don't know the percent rate of divorced couples in Sweden but divorces are rather common. Even though a divorce is a tragedy for everyone involved, and especially for the children, I don't think a divorce is only negative. Older generations in Sweden stayed as married more often even if the marriage was bad. And that was because the women usually didn't have any income and practically didn't had any choose but to stay in a bad marriage. They paid a very high price for the "family". With that in mind I am all for women's independence which give us a possibility to choose. Why stay in a marriage where there is no passion for each other? I see so many married couple who really struggle and even seek professional help in order to improve their relation so they can continue to live together and there are few who don't care or try. And I must add, if the men used the women just for sex as you wrote, I am not surprised the women where dissatisfied! Thanks for your comment, it is interesting to see how difficult it is to understand each other. We all have the same need for love, care and security but we have different views on how to get it,

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Svanen, I am glad to know that you liked this hub! I can imagine there are many "Swedes" in America since so many Swedes emigrated from Sweden during the years. Thanks for letting me know and for your comment,

      Tina

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      Not a Swede 3 years ago

      @European - you make an excellent point. I must agree. As a woman, also of Southeastern European origin, I am disappointed that "feminism" has been used to enforce resentment between the sexes when that is not what it is supposed to be about.

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      Not a Swede 3 years ago

      Where do I begin... they are horrible people to try to get close to. No emotion whatsoever. I am a foreigner that was in a 4-year relationship with a Swede. He spent that time telling me he loved me more than anyone else, proposed to me and said he would never give up on me because he never thought he would be so lucky to find someone like me. I was about to finish my PhD when I bought my wedding dress and he told me he was confused and done with me because he wasn't sure if he loved me. He said he just wants to care about himself and his career rather than put our relationship first. He took about 10 minutes to answer my questions about why he changed his mind with just a bunch of "I dunno"s. He emailed me once since to just say he doesn't know why I don't understand him and goodbye. That's all, after professing his love everyday for 4 years. It's like he died.

      At least I don't have to see his family picture albums with pictures of his naked family again. Swedes don't actually have respect for their bodies, especially women's bodies. Their bodies are public property. His parents and brother almost never engaged in a conversation for more than 2 minutes at a time with me. Swedes just know how to smile and go about their business. The worst part is that they don't care that they are this way.

      I find the women to be very dissatisfied and constantly complaining in relationships while the men are so turned off by them that they are quietly judging and resenting (but NEVER arguing). So the men mostly use them for sex. Each of their attitudes reinforces the others'. It's an unhealthy cycle. Instead of telling the truth, the women say they are "independent", but it's just a symptom of a lack of passion for each other. "Self" and "independence" comes before "family" and "togetherness" for them. In the 4 years I spent with the Swedish man, I never came across parents under 60 years of age that weren't divorced or never married or co-habitating but not wanting to marry. Except one of his friends.. they were married with children but were keeping it a secret....

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      Svanen 3 years ago

      Thanks for writing this. I am American but you described me perfectly. I am just like my father and his father was the same. I only learned last year that this paternal line goes back to Sweden. It's nice to know that I could be considered "normal" somewhere. LOL. My Cuban wife thinks I am abnormally quiet, but now I tell her proudly that I am just a normal Swede.

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Thanks for your thoughts about us Swedes. I don't agree but it might seem as if we don't care. Maybe it is because we haven't experienced any real threats as a nation for so long. But if I saw someone burn the Swedish flag I would indeed look down on him/her.

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      Mikael 3 years ago

      The funny thing is that swedes are among the most unationalistic peoples of all.

      Hating swedes must be the most frustrating experience ever! They just don't give a fck what you say about them. YOu can say whatever you want, even burn their flag, they just don't care. They will just continue to look down on you as a subhuman nomatter what you do. :D

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi European, I am sorry to hear that your relationship didn't work out and thanks for your comment. But I don't agree with you about feminism being something negative.

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      European 3 years ago

      Swedes are very rude and very ignorrant people. Vast majority of them are exaclty like that. The problem is that Swedes literally think they are "God's people" and everybody else is just sub-human. They will not tell you this in the face, but watch their body language and non-verbal expressions. I'm from southern Europe and had relationship with one beautiful Swedish girl. She was really amazingly beautiful and smart, but had way too high opinion about herself. She literally tought she is superior in everything and that she never makes mistakes. This is not just my own example, but many people share exactly the same opinions. So as far as for Swedish girls goes - yes, they are beautiful, but overly-rigid with waaaaaaay too high opinions about themselves. My advice, stay away from them, it will save you a lot of nerves and effort. Feminism destroyed Sweden.

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Thank you Khaled, I am glad to hear!

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Starluna, I don't know how to explain this since we obviously look upon women and a women's right to her own body so differently. But it is an interesting question and I will try:) Your girlfriend is right, we do undress in front of our own family if we need to, and if it feels comfortable. And we should be able too! Just like men can undress in front of their family. There is no difference at all. I believe that every human has the right to her/his own body and my body is mine, not my husbands. The fact that I have chosen to live with my husband doesn't give him the right to decide how I should behave or what I can do or can't do. I decide, just like he decides about his body. If I feel comfortable enough to undress in front of my family and friends I will do it. But if some of the male friends or family make me uneasy by looking too obviously or in a way I don't like I will think twice before I do it again or be more cautious. Even though I have the right to do as I please, I am sorry to say that women must be a bit cautious since not all men can be trusted, even if I don't think it should be that way. No one has the right to do anything to another human without permission, it must be a fundamental human right. I hope you can trust your girlfriend enough to let her make her own decisions and see that undressing in front of her family has nothing to do with disrespect for you. It is her right and has nothing to do with your relationships if it feels normal for her. And in a bath house or at the beach it is totally normal and accepted in all the Nordic countries. I hope this makes sense to you, and the way I see it, it is more of a male problem that can't be solved by forcing women to be fully clothed all the time.

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Anne, and thanks for your view about the Swedes! I am glad to hear that you don't agree entirely since I don't see it either. I am trying to see why people look upon us in this way and to some degree I can understand why. But I also think we are funny, as well as kind and warmhearted people. Humor is very important and without it, we get nowhere! Thanks for the comment!

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Frank, everything you say do sounds very familiar, even though it is not so flattering. I can imagine that it will take a while to understand the Swedish people. To say; "I will call you" is the Swedish way of being polite and is something we often say without meaning to. To talk behind other peoples back is something I never do, simply because it does not interest me but I know some people find it very interesting. I don't think that is especially typical for Swedish people though, it has more to do with humans in general.

      Thanks for your view of Swedish people, and for the comment!

      Tina

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      Khaled 3 years ago

      Swedes are the best nation in the world and the best system the best government and they are the best human beings :)...Thank you swedes from Palestine

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Kev, I love your pros and cons about Swedes! And I especially like your con; Swedes have a strange combination of arrogance and low self-esteem because it is a very good description of the influence of the Jante law. I don't feel unhappy, but then again, I don't know what you compare with. I am very happy to live in a country where equality between male and female have come a long way, even though there are still work to be done in that area. Thanks for your comment, Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Abdalrahman, I know it can take a while to make friends with us Swedes but I think we are very good friends once you get to know us. Thanks for your comment, Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Ricardo, I guess there are good and bad in all cultures and we see things a bit different. I appreciate your comment! Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Hi AnnaBrita, I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed your time here in Sweden. I have seen some episodes of the show "Allt för Sweden" and liked it but I guess it isn't the real thing really:) The way you describe Sweden and us Swedes are very interesting for me since I have spent my whole life here and have nothing to compare with. I hope you can have a good fika where you are now and also hope you will come back here again. Thanks for your comment! Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 3 years ago from Sweden

      Thanks for your thoughts Olof, and I agree with you. Both climate and distance may had, and still have, a big influence on the Swedish character and have forced us to be rational and reason-oriented.

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      STARluna 3 years ago

      Is it true that scandinavians undress in front of anyone as long as their underwear, bra is in place. They trust those people enough to undress? My girlfriend has changed in front of her family (including step dad, male cousin), friends (boys and girls), coworkers (mostly old men), and strangers (but that's in a bath house). She claims all Swedes and even Norwegians do this. It makes me uneasy, uncomfortable, disrespected, and of course jealous. I do try really hard to understand, but I come from a family that doesn't believe in such things.

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      Anne 3 years ago

      I find this article extremely amusing only because I have a Swede friend and I imagined her while reading the summary: "...here is the typical Swede: socially closed, spiritually empty, their hearts are missing, they have a sluggish mind, they are cowards, cold, shy and hold a distance!!" I wouldn't say it's entirely true because my friend is extremely pleasant and funny. Perhaps I'm lucky that our humor met first before anything else [or reading the stereotypes] because I'd definitely have second thoughts befriending a Swede knowing the stereotypes. Anyway, I personally think humor goes an extra mile. Though it might not be learned in class, it can be easily adapted with the right people around you.

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      Frank 3 years ago

      You can take the same bus/train everyday and meet the same Swedish person for years.

      The most he/she will say is: Hej.

      But if the bus or train is late he or she starts to talk like they known you for years. Same goes if the weather is really bad.

      Swedish talk allot though, when in bars after some beers, they can be your best pal.

      They say very often: Lets have a coffee some time. Trust me, that time will never come. The same goes with: I will call you... mostly just small talk and not to be trusted.

      Swedish neighbors often talk about other neighbors.. behind their back.

      Welcome to Sweden.. its a great nature.. the people? Well.. I call you some time.

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      Kev 4 years ago

      After living in Sweden on two separate occasions for more than six months each, here is my personal analysis:

      10 Pros

      Swedes tend to be non-judgemental

      Swedes make an effort to give you a positive impression

      Swedes are good at innovation, details, and marketing

      Swedes are honest and humble

      Swedes have a good sense of style and / or fashion

      Swedes are, for the most part, very attractive people

      Swedes are good listeners and pay attention

      Swedes generally keep their promises (trustworthy)

      Swedes are curious and interested in learning

      Swedes are sexually open and liberal

      10 Cons

      Swedes are the most extreme politically correct people I've ever met

      Swedes think having a disagreement is some form of "confrontation"

      Swedes can be so incredibly self-righteous - "We know best"

      Swedes have a strange combination of arrogance and low self-esteem

      Swedes are passive-aggressive and emotionally immature

      Swedes are quite cowardly - and they were once vikings??

      Swedes must be drunk to be socially "normal", unlike other Europeans

      Swedes are very, very naïve, believing so much bullsh*t in the world

      Swedish women are some of the unhappiest women I've ever met

      Swedish men are some of the most emasculated men I've ever met

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      Abdalrahman faruk 4 years ago from Cairo, Egypt

      It seem difficult to deal with aren't good in showing their feelings,it will be difficult to make friends, you will feel lonely I think.

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      Ricardo 4 years ago

      Ok.. After read this I confirmed, not only the swedish, but all nordic people are a pain in the aZZ.... real people are in South Europe, if I could, I had taken away all their money and just send it to South... To GOOD people who knows how to live and smile to life... Not to those robots, weirdos nordic people...

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      AnnaBrita 4 years ago

      I'm an American who spent some time in Sweden last year, albeit on a TV show (Allt för Sverige) which is probably not the most realistic way of experiencing the country... however, I found the Swedes to be very much as described above: quiet, stand-offish, etc. AND YET they also were absolutely wonderful people! In particular, my family members have been so kind and welcoming. But even the random people we'd meet along the way were gracious and smacked of quiet intelligence. The whole country seemed dignified, educated, and rational. I loved it. I think of it every single day still. I think of having a fika on my cousin's boat in lake Malaren in Stockholm while sunbathers politely jumped from rocks under the gentle Swedish sun... that peaceful, refined milieu is lacking over here in the US, and I miss it. Even way up North or out in the rural areas, the cleanliness and intelligence of the people were evident. There are goods and bads to all cultures, but Sweden - at least to me - is overflowing with subtle goods!

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      Olof 4 years ago

      I think people from other countries have a hard time to understand exactly how sparsley populated Sweden have been (And is still today) and how that has formed our mentality.

      Just to arrange a meeting with someone in the old days was perhaps a very intimate thing. That is to say; nothing you normally do.

      I also think swedes are a very rational-loving people and that may seem "heartless/soulless" to other people, but who cares really. Sweden has one of the most stable economys in the world, one of the best social wellfare systems (even though by no means perfect) and I really thing there is a good reason to be a "Reason-oriented" people. And you really have to be in a low populated country with freezing climate.

      What is the option then for those who dislike scandinavian mentality? Mediterranian? Maybe spaniors, italians and greeks are so full of talking about passion, their hearts and souls that they forget to actually make their societys work.

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi gent. I am sorry to hear about your experience about us Swedes. I can't take the credit for the initial description of the Sweses though, since it comes from Ake Dauns book. I hope some of our behavior became more understandable from reading this hub which I hope explains why I think people from other nationalities describe Swedes in this way. It just shows that it isn't easy to understand other nationalities and that it takes time. I wish that you will meet some Swedes who doesn't appear to be zombies without souls. I know we are much more than that, but it takes time to get to know us properly. Thanks for the comment!

      Tina

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      gent 4 years ago

      I m impressed! you just described them in a perfect way! i lived in sweden more than 5 years And i couldn't find words to describe it , you wrote it ! Gj ... when they asked me about Swedish i just say a zombie without a soul . only open their mouth when they are drunk or to talk about sex or to hit on any religion or to discriminate people by talking about war and such subjects that no one is intressted of! you can't chat with anyone without having a beer in their hand . they drink beer but if u buy vodka they throw the beer because there is a free vodka bottle

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi lesjar! Yes, it is very difficult to describe the mentality of a nation and one have to read a hub like this with some humor. But then again, I believe nationality matters and influence us on a wide scale. Someone said that the fact that we live so far north do something to people and that the cold and dark winters influence us and mold us to typical behavior. Honesty, I really don't know what to say about Swedes and honesty. It all depends on how you interpret honesty I suppose. If we talk about honesty when it comes to ethic and business I think we are very honest, but when it comes to how we behave towards one another I am more reluctant to say that we are honest. My experience is that we are more interested in what others will say or how it looks on the outside.

      A direct and straightforward behavior isn't something a typical Swede appreciate since most Swedes are the opposite. Again, there are many straightforward Swedes that will disagree with me but straightforward people is not characteristic for a Swede so we will immediately blame such behavior on the fact that they are not a Swede:)

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about this subject and for adding information from Russia. I hope you do write a hub with hints about Russian and Adyghe mentalities, it would be very interesting to read.

      Tina

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      Jurij 4 years ago from Russia

      Hi Tina and all!

      Thanks for a very interesting and informative hub. I'm Russian, though not very 'typical' one. Confusingly, we have the same saying 'Talking is silver, silence is gold' but with a different meaning. It means 'Sometimes it's wiser to keep silent' in Russia.

      I like very much to read about different nations' mentalities too and I found a series of books on this subject. It's called Xenophobe's Guides. I've read several of them (there are e-books in Russian translation on the Internet). These books have a lot of (though not near full) information but one have to catch the authors' sense of humour to get them right. Besides, I found that while some statements about Russians were true, some were not and some were even offensive. I can't judge books about other nations but I think that some criticism is needed while reading this series.

      I'm very interested in such a trait as honesty. And I've read that this trait is very typical to Swedes. Could you please elaborate on this subject?

      Another thing which interests me is how do Swedes regard a very direct and straightforward behaviour, for example such as the Dutch people are said to have.

      I think I could give some hints about Russian and Adyghe mentalities in my turn if you are interested. Though sometimes I find it very difficult to generalize such things as a nation's mentality.

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi A Seattle Guy! I found your comment very interesting and it make sense since many Swedes immigrated to America. I guess the reserved characteristic from northern Europe is hard to beat:) But I think that the characteristic of people also has have something to do with the weather, rainy or cold weather tend to make people stay more indoors and maybe that is why we are interpreted as cold and hard to get to know. It isn't so easy to connect with people who live behind closed doors even if they are friendly. I know for a fact that I am much more social during our summer season when we spend more time outdoors. I talk to my neighbors more and spend more time on cafes, beaches and restaurants where I meet more people than during the other seasons. Good to know that The Jante law isn't so typical where you live though. In my opinion the Jante Law has given more bad influences than good to the Swedish people.

      I hope you will visit Sweden sometime and if I ever get a chance to visit America I will plan for a visit in Seattle. Thanks for this interesting comment,

      Tina

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      A Seattle Guy 4 years ago

      Very interesting article. A few of the things I can relate to, as the Seattle area was pioneered by a lot of Scandinavians.

      We are typically pretty reserved here; at least people who were born and raised here are that way -- and people from other parts of the U.S. find us very cold. But we don't have the Jante thing, or remnants of it here; I don't think that part of the Scandinavian culture survived long here.

      Every now and then one of the local papers will have an article about it, usually pertaining to Seattle area dating culture, especially from the perspective of people who move here from other parts of the U.S.. They'll always say the same thing: "it's hard to meet people here", "people are cold here." Often they will blame our insular character on the rainy, bleak weather.

      So when I read similar things about Sweden it's kind of like reading about home. Except that nearly everything else I read about 'Swedish behavior' seems very different!

      The most interesting thing I have found in reading about Sweden is that people over there appear to have solid family ties, and your holiday traditions haven't been cast off like many of ours.

      Thanks for posting this thought provoking and informative article. I think it is one of the best articles I've read on the Swedish psyche. If I ever get the chance to visit I think it will help me understand the country and people there better.

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Thanks for reading and for the comment!

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      Bryan 4 years ago

      Swedes like to talk about their feelings... pull the other leg.

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi birolilu! I hope you will have a pleasant experience when you arrive to Sweden but I can imagine the struggle in trying to take care of practical things from a distance. Body language is important and I hope you will find it easier when you can talk directly to people and see the Swedes you talk to. Bear in mind that the stereotypic Swede with all these behaviors mentioned above hardly doesn't exist. At least, you will not find all these characteristic in one person. But when you recognize a characteristic like the one mentioned above you will at least be pre warned and know why:) I really think it will be fine and I am so glad to know you found my writing helpful! Please come back and tell about your experience once you are here, it would be so interesting to hear.

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi keznik, I am sorry to say that I really don't know but according to my husband who isn't born here on the Swedish west coast the bigger cities are probably a good assumption of places where people are more open and "warmer" than more sparsely populated areas here. I hope it makes sense for you! I don't want to scare people away from the west coast of Sweden because we have a wonderful nature and coastline and I personally think we are friendly towards people from other countries in our own way. It is a two way communication and it may take a while.

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      birolilu 4 years ago

      Hi thoughthforce, thank you so much for the post -- this makes very interesting reading for me and puts some of the experiences I have had with Swedish estate agents, schools etc into context: I will be relocating from France to Sweden in the summer and have a feeling I might be in for a massive culture shock. I'll keep reading your blog hoping it will buffer the impact on arrival :) ... it Thank you!

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      keznik@aol.com 4 years ago

      Hi again. You mentioned that the west cost is bad for distant behaviour. Where are the more open areas outside of stockholm assuming that if one area is known for being cold that there is an area for being warmer?

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Colomba, Yes, I have also noticed that we behave different when we are abroad and the only reason I can think of is that we are on holiday without the everyday stuff around us. It is our time to relax and enjoy the new destination. Swedes love to travel to other countries and most of us travel at least once a year. I guess we need it! Being a Swede myself I don't found it difficult to behave like a Swede and I do it without thinking. So to us it isn't artificial since we are born with it. I blame it on the Jante Law, which have had a huge affect on people here and I am happy to say that it is fading nowadays. Maybe with more influence from abroad and from people from other countries we will slowly change into more open people. In my opinion we are warm-hearted but it takes some time to get to know us. I have also heard that Japanese citizens and Swedes have similar behavior and that is really interesting since I don't think we have so much else in common! Thanks for coming back, I appreciate the input from someone who can study Swedes from another point of view!

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Colomba! Yes, I think you hit the nail there! It has much to do with the feeling of something familiar, something to connect people with, as a way to know how people really are. Even if how people are has nothing to do with which school we went to or where we live but it creates a feeling of security I guess. It makes me sad to hear about your experience but It sounds as if you have figured us out and find it easier now! Thanks for reading and for the thoughtful comment!

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi John, I am sorry to hear that you and your wife have found the Swedes to be so reserved. And I am even more sorry to say that I am not so surprised either. It is just the Swedish way and as you say it gets more obvious outside the big cities. It also depends where in Sweden you live. The part where I live, on the Swedish west coast is probably one of the worst, at least that is what my husband think. He is originally from Stockholm and has also lived in other parts of Sweden and he still struggle with the cold ways of the people living here. It really is a shame and I do not have an answer for you. I have lived on the Swedish west coast all my life so I guess I am part of it too. I hope it will fade away and become easier, at least for younger generations. As you say; the difficult part is to get past that initial hard -wall! Once that is done, I think we are warm and caring people. Thanks for the interesting comment, you got me thinking about my own behavior as well as my friends behavior.

      Tina

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      Colomba 4 years ago

      Another thing comes to mind: Swedes are very friendly and open when they are abroad. It's like away from home they dare to be themselves but when at home, they switch into a totally different person. They put on a mask and behave according to some strange invisible norm. It feels like their society have forced and shaped the swedish citizen to comply to some very stricts artificial rules.

      In a way it's just like the Japanese society. These two have a huge lot in common. I have a japanese friend who immediately adapted to life in Sweden; me on the contrary still struggling although I'm european .

      I will never comply with rules and norms that prevent me to be myself. And I only hope Swedes will one day wake up from their lethargy and see their society for what it is: a very coercive and narrow-minded one. Either you behave as expected or you're simply frozen out.

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      Colomba 4 years ago

      Pretty accurate portrait of the Swedes. After 12 years spent in this country, Im just starting to learn to know them a bit. I feel they are among the most difficult people on earth to deal with as they are very reserved( cold?). Unless you grow up in same town and went to same school, takes ages to make Swedish friends. Looking forward to a mediterranean destination in my next life. Hälsningar//C.

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      John 4 years ago

      Not sure that I agree with your reasoning and rationale behind the Swedish 'coldness' to be honest. I come from the UK and have lived here 5 years now. I have Swedish friends but none that I could call close. The Swedes are extremely cliquey when socialising and do not like to expand beyond their social circle. Also, outside of Stockholm the social life is based solely around alcohol, much of which is drunk at home.

      The Swedish coldness may have its roots in historical culture based way of life but modern Swedes take this to an extreme. It is not just me who experiences this but other Swedes too. My wife (Swedish) moved back to her hometown and tried to touch base with her old friends only to be rebuffed by either ignoring phone calls or making excuses as to why they couldn't meet for a coffee. We even invited our new neighbors over for dinner and drinks when we moved in and have yet to receive an invite back.... and in some cases the same neighbors will completely 'blank' you on the street if you pass them. '

      This 'cold' culture is not just something that immigrants such as myself experience, the Swedes experience it too and when I bring it up in conversation they freely admit to acting this way and do it out of fear of being different.

      It is a shame as once you get to know the Swedes they are generally very nice and warm people, it is just getting past that initial hard-wall that is very difficult....

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi danish, Yes the Jantelaw is danish and the writer Aksel Sandemose lived in Denmark but wrote in Norwegian! But it seems as the Jantelaw has had more impact on the Swedish people than the Danish and the Norwegian. Thanks for pointing this out, I will add it to the text so there is no confusion. I think I could write a separate hub about the Jantelaw since it is a bit complicated!

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Kerry Grant and thank you for the interesting comment! I can imagine that it is a massive step moving to another country and I would have the same concern as you have if I would move to England! But I don't think you will have so much trouble if you moved here. I have been working with an English man during some years and although he isn't talking so much about what he thinks about Sweden I do think he likes it here. But there is one thing I know he is missing and that is the English politeness, especially in traffic where he find Swedes to be very rude! And we do give praise to each other since we all want to know that we are appreciated. But maybe we give praise more silent and perhaps more subtile depending on which part of the world we compare with. The language is vital, especially when it comes to working life even if almost every Swede can speak and understand English. But it sounds as if you and your husband are on top of that too since you are already learning Swedish. I hope you will find a house here and I say welcome in advance! I would love to hear how it all goes!

      Thanks for reading and for the votes!

      Tina

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      danish 5 years ago

      The jantelaw is Danish btw.

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      Kerry Grant 5 years ago from Battle, East Sussex

      My husband and I are from England and are quiet and fairly reserved (shy). We saw an advert for a beautiful house in Southern Sweden that was a third of the price of my tiny terraced house in Southeast UK. We started to do a bit of research and found some lovely houses all over with stunning scenery. My husband came over for a week a couple of months ago and stayed in Karlstad where we were told that we couldn't afford a house there lol but we still check out the property websites. We are both learning Swedish and so far everything I have read warms me to the culture. Pete found them to be friendly and helpful but Pete would not stand out too much apart from when he spoke (in English). He loved the direct plain speaking attitude and absolutely loved the countryside.

      The only concern I have is when we do find a house to buy we wont be able to move over completely until I have found a job as I am the main bread winner. Pete is a tree surgeon and I am in Finance. I am worried about the cultural and professional differences as although I am shy I do work very hard and like to be told when I have done a good job. Where in I blush and skitter away but it boosts my confidence massively being praised. Professional my qualifications would mean nothing in Sweden either so the fact of re-training is daunting. Your schools seems very good and I believe my little boy would certainly benefit.

      Your article was very interesting especially the video clips and I intend to read your other articles as soon as possible. Have voted it up.

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi dereksmalls, I can imagine that it is difficult to move to a new country. There are so many things to learn and it must be frustrating at times to experience the difficulty in melting into the Swedish community. It should get easier though, considering that you have been here for more than a year. Don't give in, the Swedes generally are kind and caring but in our own way. Thanks for telling me about your experiences, it is so interesting. It is a bit sad though, that we make life so difficult for us by having these differences between countries.

      Tina

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      dereksmalls 5 years ago

      Its funny when you move to a new country and you have to learn how to act. Its hard psychologically and its not for the faint hearted hence why lots of people just stay put. Ive had my ups and downs with Sweden - mostly downs as Im just past one year. Anyone who has been on holiday somewhere will generally tell you what a wonderful place it is because of how they are and when you smile the whole world smiles with you. Expatriation is a total different ball game and you find yourself like a toddler screaming at the frustration and confusion that has been thrust upon you. Whenever I am filled with these negative notions of Swedish people that you outlined at the beginning - and I can fully understand how people get this impression - someone will do something kind and warm. I often think of my homeland and the frustrations of life there. When you are at home its just that life and people are frustrating, when you are in Sweden - or anywhere else for that matter - its ALL the fault of the natives and their confounding ways. I am learning to walk, its been hard but when you understand what you should and shouldn't do and forget about how things would be if you could organise the world about yourself, then life gets a hell of a lot easier. Mention sörstromming and you will always break the ice...a little bit.

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi JLOlson, I am thrilled to hear about the Scandinavian influences in Minnesota and I like the description "Minnesota-nice", it really says it all. It must have been both fun and interesting to visit Sweden and your relatives, I know that I have relatives in America on my fathers side who´s name was Olsson and I would love to search for them someday. I was about ten years old the last time our relatives from America visited and I only remember them vaguely. And sadly, there is no one left here to ask who they are or where they live. Great to hear that you had a pleasant visit here and thank you so much for the comment, it was interesting!

      Tina

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      JLOlson 5 years ago

      (continued from earlier post)...how my Grandma Olson acted.

      Long story short, my relatives were wonderful, warm, and very loving. They were soooo excited to welcome us back and tried to get us to move "back home." I could tell that I needed to not be so touchy-feely (like Italians), and I needed to stop saying "hi" to everyone; but as soon as I started to talking to the Swedes, they were enamoured by my American accent (said my Uncle Tor) and kept asking me questions...mostly political...about America and what we thought. :)

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      JLOlson 5 years ago

      Hi, Tina. I really enjoyed your article! I am of Swedish descent (half) and live in Minnesota, MN...where we have the second largest Swedish/Swedish-descent population to Sweden. I know that many of the cultural traits of MN come from Scandinavia (the Jante Law), but just known as "Minnesota-nice" here.

      Last summer, we went to Sweden for the first time, to meet our relatives who hadn't had family from the U.S. in over 30 years. We were all nervous. Besides being 50% Swedish, I am also 25% French-Canadian and 25% Italian...and a 100% American; so, I wasn't sure how much of my Swedish traits had survived. And if my Swedish relatives would see me as brash, abrasive, loud, or just plain rude (I am an extrovert and warm like an Italian). I just tried to remember how my

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Anna! It feels good for me to know that Swedes are not so strange and that there are similar persons in other parts of the world too. Good that you are learning some Swedish before your stay here! It will be an advantage for you even though most Swedes speak English. I wish you all the best with your studies and hope you will enjoy your time in Sweden and Norway! Thank you for reading and for the interesting comment!

      Tina

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      Anna 5 years ago

      It was very interesting to read this article, bacause I read so much new! But it kind of felt, like I was reading about myself, not Swedes. :) Feels like I have some Swedish genes and I'm really happy about it! I live in Georgia, but still I have so many genes, apart from Georgian (Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Jewish and now Swedish!) Trying to learn Swedish right now and study in Sweden or Norway. It is to know what this people are like and I think, that I will feel very good in Sweden! :)

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Milli Thornton, Oh, I am glad I wrote this article then! It is so easy to misjudge since we interpret the behavior of others from our own point of view. And we do it without thinking although we might have an open mind to other cultures. I do it myself also. I wish there was a manual to read about every country where facts about the people and how to behave was included and not only where to go and what to see! It is so nice to meet you and thank you for the interesting comment!

      Tina

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      Milli Thornton 5 years ago

      I haven't had much exposure to Swedes, so some of the details in this article surprised me. I voted "Yes" that it changed my views of Swedes. But at least with your explanations (especially of The Jante Law), I understand why they are this way. However, if I had encountered some of these behaviors without the benefit of your article, I might have agreed with some of the less flattering labels applied to Swedes.

      I can relate best to the part about the personal space. I really treasure mine (as well as my privacy) and I detest ignorant people--for instance in the queue at the post office--who insist on standing in my space.

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Terence! It isn't so long ago when gay people had a difficult time in Sweden either, but I guess it depends on what we compare with. Nowadays gay people are more accepted and most Swedes have no problem with a persons sexual orientation. Homosexual couples can be wed in church and there is a law against sexual discrimination. But there are always people who have a different view so there are still a minority who think homosexuality is wrong. I don't think you will have any special problems coming from Asia to Sweden and I hope you will enjoy your visit here! Thanks for the comment!

      Tina

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      Terence 5 years ago

      Hi! My name is Terence and I'm from the Philippines. I heard Sweden has a long history of tolerance for the gay community as they would for anyone else too. I'm just wondering how it is nowadays? And how are Swedes whenever they meet people from Asia? I'm planning to visit Stockholm someday and meet some Swedish people too :) Excellent read! Keep it up!

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Kent, Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comment!

      Tina

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      Kent 5 years ago

      Really good article. I enjoyed reading it.

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Joe, I understand how you mean and it is never wrong to get new influences from another country. Either from a distance or by living in another country for a while. I love my country and everything it stands for but of course we have problems here too. All countries are affected by each other these days and a change in one part of the world will inevitable have an impact of the rest. It is difficult and sometimes I don't understand the motives for an action, or the opposite, when nothing is being done to stop the cruelty towards people in other countries. Thank you so much for your thoughts,

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Dimitri, I think you will be just fine. I don't think we will give people a hard time no matter the ethnicity. We have many greeks here and Greece is one of the most popular places for Swedes when we travel. I have been to Greece and I would love to go there again.

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi A.A! Haha, that sounds just like a Swede to me so maybe you have some Swedish genes! I am sure that you would feel at home here and that you would blend in nicely:) I hope you will visit my country but if you do, you better make sure you know the woman before you start talking about sex with her otherwise she will only look angrily at you in response! It is great to know that there are people with Swedish behavior in US too, since it means that I will feel at home if or when I visit the US. Thank you so much for reading and for this funny comment A.A.! I hope you have a great weekend,

      Tina

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      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Emma, and thank you for your comment! I am glad to know that you could use this article and I hope your Filipino boyfriend understand you better from this! Good point about hugs and I agree with you that hugs are not suitable in every situation

      Tina

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      Joe 5 years ago

      Thank you for the reply. Yes of course, it's a game of averages, every nation is very diverse; it's just about how the culture evolves to form some kind of average. I was also being quite playful because I have very blonde hair, blue eyes and people always think I'm either Swedish/German/Dutch.

      I never really identify is being that British, probably more as European in the general way of seeing things. All this royal family stuff and that we invade every country (along with America) makes me a bit embarrassed to be from here.

      I guess it's the green grass on the other side but seems like a nicer place to be right now.