Etiquette in Switzerland

Switzerland, a landlocked country in the Alps, has a population of over 8 million people.

The official languages are German, French, Italian, and Romansh. German is the one primarily spoken, although French and Italian are spoken by many on the borders of the respective countries. It is usually fairly easy to find someone who speaks English in the larger cities.

Switzerland is a directorial federal parliamentary republic. There are three main governing bodies: the bicameral parliament (legislative), the Federal Council (executive) and the Federal Court (judicial).

Switzerland has no official state religion, though most of the cantons recognize and publicly finance official churches, which are either the Catholic Church or the (Protestant) Swiss Reformed Church. Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy are the most prevalent minority religions.

The currency is the Swiss franc.

Business Negotiation Etiquette

There is no room for humor in negotiations. The Swiss take business very seriously.

Enter potential partnerships with a long term goal in mind. Deliberations are slow and strong personal relationships take a very long time to establish.

Bring business cards and give one to the secretary upon arrival. Many businesspeople speak English, so there is no need to translate it.

When on a business meal, avoid asking personal questions and don’t talk about your diet plans. Instead stick to business, sports, positive aspects of Switzerland, travel, and politics. Bringing up the topic of the military will likely result in an opinionated argument.

Always keep your wrists on the table during meals and never place your hands in your lap.