Last week, we were invited by the Department of Engineering Sciences at Uppsala University. Together with she Division of Applied Material Science, we organised a half-day event, to create awareness of Swedish culture and intercultural communication. This post primarily serves as a collection of links and notes from that event aimed at the attendees, but anyone else who is interested is naturally welcome to take part of the material.


Download the slideshow including Selected Reading (pdf) here.


Read more about the six dimensions of culture by Geert Hofstede here. Very useful tool for comparing two or more countries, or reading more about the national culture of a particular place.


Read more about the model state-individualism developed by Trägårdh/Berggren on pages 13-29 in the Nordic Way, or my review on the book [Är svensken människa?].


Additional notes from our seminar (complementary to the pdf and the links)

  • - Our image of the past says much more about the present than the past in itself
  • - There are no simple reasons or explanations to why things appear the way they do.
  • - We interpret any image or message according to our cultural background and references.
  • - No two people are the same.
  • - National culture - not everyone, not the majority, but a higher proportion than elsewhere.
  • - Swedes speak good English, based on course literature, professional documentation, software and applications, as well as imported entertainment. There is little deviation from the mean when measuring language proficiency in Sweden.
  • We tend to judge Swedes as better communicators than we are because our English seems to be fluent.
  • - We often use English according to the cultural and social codes derived from our native language. Swedes use yes [ja] to say no, in conflicting situations.
  • - Improve Intercultural Communication on three levels:
  • - Individual
  • - Interpersonal
  • - Organisational


Notes from the workshop Expressing and Receiving Feedback

  • - Feedback is often expressed in a vague, not well-thought through manner.
  • - Dependent on cultural background, personal experiences and preferences, we interpret pieces of feedback differently.
  • - Interpretation is also contextual, and depends on non-verbal factors such as body - language, relationship, tone of voice.
  • - Feedback and criticism are unequally valued dependent on who expresses it. It is someone in the organisation who has the ‘authority’
  • - Referring to articulated (prior) requirements makes feedback more factual and relevant.
  • - Sharing the sub-culture of research and academia helps participants to find mutual ground for communication and collaboration.
  • - Something that may seem positive in the corporate world (direct implementation) can cause fear in academia.
  • - Swedes prefer to give negative feedback in a one-to-one setting, when no one else is present. This is not the case in all cultures.
  • - Asking if the person would like to receive feedback is a great way of starting the conversation.
  • - Through being aware of different communication styles from the start, we were careful to be as precise as possible when communicating.
  • - Having clearly defined roles, whereof one was to ensure that everyone got to speak, helped us to collaborate better.


Connect with us on LinkedIn: Djina Wilk & Sofi Tegsveden Deveaux.