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Home > New Posting > Cultural Etiquette

The People

Simplicity and nature are the core of the Norwegian lifestyle. Tolerance, kindness to each other and independence are highly valued. Criticism of other people or others' systems is frowned upon. "Peace and progress" are mottos in the country that sponsors the Nobel Prizes. Norwegians treasure their landscape, outdoor activity, sailing, cross-country skiing, etc.

Meeting and Greeting

  • Shake hands with everyone present--men, women and children--at a business or social meeting. Shake hands again when leaving.
  • When introduced for the first time, address the other by both first and last name, i.e. Mr. John Lund.
  • Norwegians do not use the phrases "Pleased to meet you" or "How are you?" They find these to be surface formalities with no real meaning.

Body Language

  • There is little personal touching except between relatives and close friends.
  • Do not stand close to a Norwegian, back slap or put your arm around anyone.

Corporate Culture

  • Norwegians take punctuality for business meetings very seriously and expect that you will do likewise; call if you will be more than five minutes late.
  • Management style is similar to the participative management style in the United States, and employees are asked opinions.
  • Consensus is a high priority, but the boss makes the final decisions.

Dining and Entertainment

  • Norwegians insist on punctuality for social occasions. 7:00 p.m. means 7:00 p.m.
  • Business lunches are to discuss business, but business dinners are mostly social. Business can also be discussed, but allow the host to open the discussion.
  • For a formal toast, look into the eyes of the person being toasted and give a slight nod, then say Skĺl. Before putting your glass down, meet the other person's eyes and nod.
  • In a formal setting, the meal ends with the male guest of honor tapping his glass with a knife and thanking the hostess on behalf of all the guests. A little story or joke may accompany the toast.
  • Dinners are generally long with three courses and much conversation. It is impolite to leave immediately after dinner.
  • It is polite to finish everything on your plate. Norwegians do not like to waste food, but you are not expected to overstuff yourself.


  • Dress is conservative. For business, men should wear sports jackets, ties or suits. Women should wear suits, dresses or dress pants.


  • When invited to someone's home, always bring a small gift for the hostess. Give: flowers, chocolates, wine, pastries, liquor (very expensive in Norway). Do not give: carnations, bouquet of only white flowers, like lilies (funeral only), wreath (even at Christmas--for funerals only).
  • If invited to a dinner party, it would be a good idea to send flowers to the host the day of the dinner party.
  • Gifts are normally not exchanged at business meetings, but small gifts may be appropriate at the successful conclusion of negotiations.
  • Keep gifts small. An expensive gift may be viewed as a bribe. Give: brandy or whiskey that are good quality but not too expensive.

Helpful Hints

  • Do not drink and drive. Norway has very strict laws for intoxicated drivers, and the limit for blood/alcohol content is only .05. One beer can put you over the limit.
  • Sincerity is very important. Norwegians often consider Americans too glib and too casual. Never invite someone to dinner or suggest "getting together" without following with a sincere invitation.
  • Norwegians are very proud of their landscape. Take the time to notice it, appreciate it and comment on it.
  • Never lump Norwegians together with Swedes or Danes.

Especially for Women

  • Foreign women will have no problem doing business in Norway.
  • It is acceptable for a foreign woman to invite a Norwegian man to dinner. She should have no problem paying the bill.
Adapted from material compiled by Window on the World, a cross-cultural training and consulting firm. Originally based on material contained in the "Put Your Best Foot Forward" series of books by Mary Murray Bosrock.
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