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Sweden says: Sure... (but do we agree?)

There is a saying which we Swedes think and say about ourselves. The saying is: “Swedes are afraid of getting into arguments”, and especially with strangers or people we don’t know well. Therefore, to be able to communicate with Swedes in a successful way, there are a few things you probably need to know.

One of them is the fact that people from Sweden usually tries to avoid disagreement at almost all costs. Because of that, sensitive subjects like politics, money, religion etc is probably often avoided in conversations, except with close friends and family. Even regarding other and more “easy” subjects, it’s very likely that your new Swedish friend seems to go along with your point of wiew, even if it isn’t really his or hers real take on the subject.
For example: if someone says something we don’t agree with, instead of coming with several counterarguments we just swallow them and agree with the person. Maybe not with a strong agreement, but we agree, perhaps with a low “yeah”, “yes” or similar expressions. We are afraid of offending anyone or create angry discussions.

Of course this behavior can be misunderstood if we, (the Swedes) are having a conversation with persons from different cultures. Maybe, to the other part, this unwillingness to take a stand can seem arrogant or like a lack of interest when we meet with people from other, more outright, cultures. Or maybe we seem to be overly smooth and smarmy, not having the guts to speak out and have our own opinion. They might get the wrong comprehension of us and think that we are uninterested of the chat or that we are trying to be ingratiating by not disagree or come with a different view of the subject.

But that’s not the case at all. The reason is not to undermine ourself, and we certainly are not uninterested in discussions in general. But in Sweden we just really don’t like conflicts, even if they’re just verbal, and when meeting with newly made friends or other people we don’t know that well there is always a risk of difference of opinions wich if we’re unlucky might lead to an argument. To be sure to avoid that, we keep a low profile until we can get to know you better.
So be patient with us Swedes. We have opinions, and we like to talk about them, a lot. You just have to take som time to get to know us first.

The question is if we shall be more honest and find more courage or not? After all, it is our culture and we have been raised by acting like this. But, we don’t want the world to misunderstand us, but it must be impossible to demand the world to understand our behavior when we really don’t know why we are doing this ourselves?

Anyway, we hope the misunderstandings will be friendly resolved and explained so that we don’t have to get into an aggressive discussion because of our behavior with a non-violent intention. That would just be ironic! That a non-violent behavior creates aggressive discussions.

Of course we can’t say that every Swedish citizen acts this way, but we think it’s so common that you generally can say this about us. We are afraid of getting into conflicts, and maybe that’s a big reason for being without war for so many years now. We can also see Sweden as a country of cowardly, but that is another story.
Anyway, we hope this text will help you being a little less confused while talking to us Swedes.


With Love, Lisa S and Lisa J


Hello ladies, my name I am a student from Stanford University working in the Rhetoric Project. I have never personally heard that stereotype about Swedes, so I will take your word on it. I think this is a very interesting topic because people from outside of Sweden might not understand the reasoning behind being so non confrontational. This might make the foreigners a little uncomfortable, I agree with you. Overall, this is a very interesting topic and I am glad I was able to read about it!

Sorry, my name is Dylan Clayton

iagree Swedes are afraid of getting into arguments”, and especially with strangers

Anyway, we hope the misunderstandings will be friendly resolved and explained so that we don’t have to get into an aggressive discussion because of our behavior with a non-violent intention. That would just be ironic! That a non-violent behavior creates aggressive discussions.

Hello! I'm Dmitry, I'm from Khabarovsk, Russia. The topic of your post is very interesting, and the issue is rather controversial.
Here is Russia we really often argue. Many people would argue with you just to show thay are familiar with the topic of a conversation or to show they are vary clever. Some would argue even if they agree with you)) But still we agree on lots of issues.

Don't you think that agreeing with people doesn't lead to a construction of new ideas? They say 'the truth is born in arguing' (well at least we say so in Russia). When people put controversial opinions into some kind of fight, the best ideas shall appear in the conversation. Also, arguing is essential when making decisions, for example, in government.
Well, that's what my maybe stereotypical understanding of arguments sais. (Hope i didn't agrue too much with you?))

Wow! Atre reading this I have to find myself a nice sweet Swedish girlfriend now! Are you single Lisa S.?

Love you back ;)


P.S: Lisa S. (I hope you're the one on the left)feel free to mail me, I'm from Holland and would like to get to know you better :)

why “Swedes are afraid of getting into arguments??

Thank you girls for sharing interesting thoughts. Your post explains a lot about the fact that swedes agree with you even if you criticise Sweden ;)

why “Swedes are afraid of getting into arguments?? - same question with me...

Thank you, girls, you have chosen a very interesting and unexpected (for me) topic. My name is Marianna Sidorenko and I enjoyed your post a lot. Before reading it I thought that trait of avoiding arguments is more a part of western culture ))
I would agree with Dima that SOME people like arguing in Russia, but I wouldn't assert, that all the people like getting into arguments. Dima and me we are just the members of the debate-club, that is why we are surrounded most of the time by people who like debating :)

Thank you, girls, for really interesting post. My name is Darya Slobodenuk. I am a student of Khabarovsk State Academy of Econimics and Law.The true is that every nation has its unique temperament. Therefore, while communicating with each other we should take these temperament diversity into consideration. Actually it was unexpectedly to know such information about the Swedes. I think that this one of the reasons for absence of armed conflicts in Sweden for so many years. In my opinion it’s great that many historical facts and the process of development depends on inner traits, beliefs and preferences of people. Of course they are different for various countries and cultures. It doesn’t mean that some of us are bad and some are good, we are different and it’s wonderful. I was glad to read these facts. Who knows, maybe these knowledge will help me to prevent conflicts and avoid misunderstandings.:)))

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