Business Etiquette Switzerland (1)

What you should keep in mind (Part 1)

Business Etiquette Switzerland – Part 1


Also and above all in business applies: other countries, other customs. Germany and Switzerland are already very different when it comes to the rules of etiquette in business. You should therefore be aware of the cultural differences between your home country and Switzerland so that you don't accidentally put your foot in it.

Business Etiquette Switzerland Number 1: The sound makes the music

In Switzerland, great importance is attached to a polite, courteous and adapted tone of voice. Loud and shrill is too intrusive for the Swiss. At the beginning, they appreciate an appropriate distance and even if you have known each other for a while, quick sayings are usually not appropriate in business.

The Swiss also often formulates concrete instructions and demands in such a way that it sounds more like a proposal at first glance. Don't let this fool you and ask in case of doubt. Often the subjunctive is used, but it is not meant that way. A small example:tiv formuliert, aber es wird nicht so gemeint. Ein kleines Beispiel:

  • What your boss says: Would it be possible for you to send me the report by the beginning of next week?

  • What your boss means: I expect your report by next Monday.

Business Etiquette Switzerland Number 2: The company hierarchy

In contrast to Germany, for example, the hierarchies in Switzerland are rather flat. An appreciative approach, in which the employee's opinion also counts, is important to most companies. A cooperative management style, in which not only the boss but also the entire team can and should be involved, is usually the goal.

Despite the detached and polite tone, it is normal to be on first-name terms across hierarchical levels. However, you should never offer that to your boss. Employees higher in rank offer this to lower employees, hierarchically speaking.

Business Etiquette Switzerland Number 3: Clothes make people

The business dress code for your industry is something you should be sure to know before you go to the interview. It is well known that clothes make people, and this is especially true in Switzerland.

Here you will find the most important rules when it comes to  business clothing .

Business Etiquette Switzerland Number 4: Punctual, like a Swiss clockwork

An absolute no-go in business (and also in private): coming too late. Switzerland is proud of its punctuality and sees it as a sign of respect if the other person adheres exactly to the agreed time. If in doubt, you'd rather arrive five minutes early than too late. However, you shouldn't arrive too early for an appointment either, which can be rude and intrusive.