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Personality/Mentality of Swedes

What are they like?

post 31.May.2011, 11:39 PM
Post #1
Location: Skåne
Joined: 25.May.2011

Most of what I have to go on about the personality of Swedes is by word-of-mouth and Google searches, both of which are questionable at best. I've heard that they generally have a point-A to point-B, agenda-based mentality and leave almost no room for spontaneity, which can sometimes be mistaken as boring or rude by foreigners. I've heard that women are outgoing while men are shy and standoffish, but I've also heard that the opposite is true (but that may just be the Swedish man's excuse for not getting laid). I've heard that service-based industries leave something to be desired, but then again I prefer to order and never see the waitress again until it's time to pay anyway, and I hate being bothered by employees while shopping. I've heard that everyone is very stoic and cold unless you know them well, or you get some drink in them.

So, Swedes, feel free to dispel or uphold any of these findings, and add your own thoughts. Non-natives that have been and/or live there, I would love to hear your opinions because they will most likely be unbiased.
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post 1.Jun.2011, 12:00 AM
Post #2
Joined: 8.Mar.2010

If you performed a simple search, you would come across the following:

Are Swedes Cold People?
I find Swedes Friendly and Helpful
Do You Find Swedes to be Cliquish?
How Shallow and Insecure are Swedes?
Why do swedes put themselves down so much?
Swede's lack of politeness
Why Can swedes be so rude?
Do swedes have hearts?
Are swedes very sexually liberated or conservative?
Why do swedes drink so much beer?

This list could go on forever. There are so many threads on this topic that I doubt anyone will actually respond.. but thanks for giving me an opportunity to kill some time at work. Slow day wink.gif
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post 1.Jun.2011, 12:04 AM
Post #3
Location: Skåne
Joined: 25.May.2011

Thanks! I sort of just woke from a nap and wasn't clear minded enough to search first.
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post 1.Jun.2011, 12:05 AM
Post #4
Joined: 8.Mar.2010

Haha, no worries wink.gif

Another one that may prove to be hilarious.. I've yet to read it, but: Tips about swedes
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post 1.Jun.2011, 03:15 AM
Post #5
Joined: 26.Apr.2011

The whole idea of asking what an entire people are "like" is ridiculous.
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post 1.Jun.2011, 03:21 AM
Post #6
Location: Skåne
Joined: 25.May.2011

@ mjennin2: It's funny enough to be worth your time, I believe.

@ jamesblish: Settle down. rolleyes.gif
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Rick Methven
post 1.Jun.2011, 06:28 AM
Post #7
Location: Linköping
Joined: 30.Nov.2005

QUOTE (graphixperson @ 1.Jun.2011, 12:39 AM) *
So, Swedes, feel free to dispel or uphold any of these findings, and add your own thoughts. Non-natives that have been and/or live there, I would love to hear your opinions be ... (show full quote)

Posting this on a forum where 99.99% of members are not Swedish is like a voice crying out in the wilderness
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post 1.Jun.2011, 06:54 AM
Post #8
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

Pretty obvious that this thread has been started with the intention to stir. Best ignored.
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Frank Arbach
post 1.Jun.2011, 06:58 AM
Post #9
Location: Not in Sweden
Joined: 18.Apr.2011

@ graphixperson

I would mosey on over from the United States and find out for yourself; nothing beats first-hand experience laugh.gif
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post 1.Jun.2011, 07:48 AM
Post #10
Location: Skåne
Joined: 25.May.2011

I had no other intent but to go gather information. Of course the best way to learn about a culture or a language is by immersion, but I'm not physically in the country, so that is impossible. I'd rather do some research before I leave than go over completely uninformed. Apparently I've started a "beating a dead horse" thread, and for that, I apologize. Thank you to those who have been helpful so far, both in thread and PM.
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post 1.Jun.2011, 09:34 AM
Post #11
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 1.Feb.2011

You'd think that USA and Sweden would have lots in common. I mean it's not like you're moving to China right? Wrong...once you get here, you're gonna go through a nice little roller coaster. First you're going to love it, then after you kinda settle in and get to see the dirt under the carpet you'll hate it, then slowly begin to like it again over time.
As for the people...although you can never say that 100% of any population acts a certain way, I would say that MOST (out of the people I've seen/had contact with keeping in mind that I live in the Stockholm area) are quite dry. Dry sense of humor, don't really laugh unless they are super comfortable with you kind of people. They can be very stubborn but yet very conforming. Most people here drive station wagons, most people here have an iPhone, most people here have at least one pair of Converse shoes...it's very trendy but the trends don't change very frequently. Also the girls are quite different as well. You can ask a girl out to dinner, take her to a nice five star restaurant, and when it comes time to pay it would be odd if you didn't split the bill. Also they tend to be weary of strangers...for example you can sit on a plane with a Canadian or American beside you that you totally don't know and strike up a conversation, talk forever and it's normal and even welcomed at times. Swedes, they prefer to have their headphones in their ears and their nose in their books. Not to say that these things apply to everyone, but based on my personal experience...that's kinda what it's like.
Best thing to do, is to come over here and take a gander for yourself. But don't come for a month or two in the summer, love it, and move here...come for like 4 months through the dead of winter and see what you think.
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post 1.Jun.2011, 11:35 AM
Post #12
Location: Växjö
Joined: 17.May.2011

I have found, over the course of a two year friendship with a Swedish man, and staying in Sweden through more than one season (including a month of winter, from mid-December through mid-January—btw, for those who think winter here is harsh, move to the middle of the U.S., which gets Arctic blasts from upper Canada—it's colder in Nebraska and Montana than it proved to be in Kronoberg last winter, but hell, cold is cold) that Swedes are people/human and therefore vary in their temperament. ;-)

However, I think it's safe to say that unless you're in Stockholm and are actively traversing tourist land/Gamla Stan, I have not yet met many Swedes that seem aggressively outgoing. Well, there is this one guy we hang out with, a drummer, who is somewhat crazy and very extroverted, but even he says he's unusual for a Swede. He'll call me up just to say hi and ask me what I'm doing and why min man left me alone for five minutes. Personally, I think he's lonely and bored, although he is married, and so you'd think he'd know better, but everyone has to learn some valuable life lessons, I guess.

I am glad they're not all over me in stores; I like being left alone while shopping, otherwise I can't think. There's none of the stress of feeling like you have to make them happy by buying something. I have had a couple of salespeople ask me questions, in Swedish, at which point I've had to say "min Svenska är fruktensvard" which only left them thinking that I actually speak Swedish, which brought on even more questions. So, my point is, there are shy Swedes, there are introverted Swedes, there are outgoing, chatty Swedes... I'm not sure you can make these gross generalisations.

However, min man is taking a psych course at the local universitetet, in which they talk about Swedes (in Swedish, which seems to me to make their reports to one another more authentic) and they discuss the question of "are Swedes fully human?" because they are self-critical about their own social immaturity. It does seem that, from the Swedish point of view, they see themselves as being unnecessarily shy, socially backward, etc. So perhaps this perspective has something to do with the fact that for a very long time, Sweden, in spite of all its amazing contributions to the world's stage, has never really seen itself as a powerful country.

Personally, after a trip to the Vasa museet, when we discovered the circumstances under which the ship sank, and what was going on in Sweden in the late 1600s, early 1700s, and their aspirations to dominate Scandinavia and even parts of Russia, that came to nothing... I think the Swedes might have lost their moxie. I decided it was time for them to reclaim their ancestral heritage, and now I like to point out to them that they have an amazing history. To this end, I will drag Swedes with me to look at runestones and reclaim their strong Viking heritage, including the gods and goddesses they haven't been told are part of their cultural and historical myths. I found out that schools have not been teaching the Swedes to appreciate their own history, but have instead been telling Swedes how great other countries are for far too long, probably an entire generation or more.

So, in essence, I think Sweden needs to reclaim its incredible history, and rediscover its strength, and focus less on what other countries are doing. Other countries have their own problems, but Sweden tends to focus on the inequities between themselves and these other countries, to their detriment.

Anyway: just an opinion, based on a couple of years of research into Sweden, its history, and its people, but purely from the perspective of an outsider. Therefore, I could be completely wrong, and others would have to let you know what they think, to provide balance. smile.gif
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post 1.Jun.2011, 11:43 AM
Post #13
Location: Uppsala
Joined: 9.Jul.2006

QUOTE (AMGunn @ 1.Jun.2011, 12:35 PM) *
I found out that schools have not been teaching the Swedes to appreciate their own history, but have instead been telling Swedes how great other countries are for far too long ... (show full quote)

But surely since the national anthem sings about the history and how great it was, Swedes should be educated about this? I thought they all loved the ancient history - or maybe they just like the running tracks around it all!

For me they seemed very up their own arses, but the more I get to know them the more I'm realising it's a not very good cover for their own lack of self esteem (in the men anyway).
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post 1.Jun.2011, 12:25 PM
Post #14
Joined: 10.Jul.2006

AMGunn, I really liked your post.

I'm Swedish by the way.

I was never really taught about Norse mythology for instance. I think we touched on it in school when I was like 7 maybe. Not sure. Didn't learn a lot about the Samis either.

Swedish history we did study a lot.

Please understand that this is just my experience. Other Swedes may have studied differently.
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post 1.Jun.2011, 12:57 PM
Post #15
Joined: 7.Oct.2009

Every culture has its stereotype, but from first hand experience I can honestly say most of the people I have met in Sweden are brilliant. Often well travelled, bright, interesting and confident. You obviously can't put people in a box and say this is how they are! It also depends on how you approach people in general, if you are looking for a stereotype you will likely find it, but that goes for anyone wherever they are from. Take each person individually dude, there are plenty of morons out there (a lot on the locals forums as you will see at a glance), and equally if, not moreso, some wonderful human beings that make life more interesting and fulfilling.

A funny site to check out is one I stumbled across just yesterday:


Scroll down the left hand side to read some funny articles, but it is worth reading the home page to see where the creators are coming from, i.e. it's not malicious.

Best wishes, and I hope you are hear to enjoy the excellent summer. Now that IS something Swedes to exceptionally well!
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