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Afterwork, teambuilding, and making friends

Ann Törnkvist · 10 Feb 2014, 11:40

Published: 10 Feb 2014 11:40 GMT+01:00

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Socializing/cracking on to colleagues

"Vill nån ha kaffe eller en kopp te?" ("Anyone want a coffee or a cup of tea?")

The Swedes really appreciate, even expect politeness, so there's no better place to start than offering to make them a tea or coffee. Be prepared, by tea the Swedes probably mean roiboos or some kind of suspect chai concoction in a colourful box with swirls on it. They don't mean builder's tea.

"Är det nån som ska luncha idag?" (“Is anyone doing lunch today?")

Lunchtimes may not be as holy in Sweden as in, say, France, but most offices know that eating by your desk is unhygienic and that taking a break is vital for performance throughout the day, so never feel guilty if you gather a band of colleagues and trot off to lunch.

If anyone shoots a critical stare your way, just smile and say "Teambuilding!", which means, you guessed it "Team building!". Long live Swenglish. 

"Ska vi ta en snabb öl efter jobbet?" ("Wanna grab a quick beer after work?")

Sweden is not, however, England, so don't accidentally romanticize a heavy night on the town by asking: 

"Var du full i fredags, eller?" ("Were you drunk on Friday?") or worse "Du var fanimej aspackad på afterworken!" (Damn, you were smashed at the after work drinks!)

"Afterwork"... yes, grabbing a beer after work is called "Afterwork" and often referred to in emails or SMS simply as an "AW" (pronounced, however, Ah-Veh, as the "W" doesn't really exist phonetically in the Swedish language).

And while on the topic of tagging "Eller?" onto every sentence. It is sort of like a Swedish "Innit?", and signals that you are either uncertain of your statement or that you have actually asked a question. It can be useful if said in the right way, but can also come across as passive aggressive. So don't use it until you are used to its nuances (and just because you can pick up on the nuances, doesn't mean you can reproduce them yet).

Getting on with colleagues (or not)

You'll need to work closely with colleagues, some of whom may not be to your liking and you may need to put them in their place. 

"Jag har lite mycket på gång just nu, men jag kan ta itu med det här imorgon" ("Yes, I’m a bit bogged down just at the moment, but I’ll be able to do it tomorrow")

"Chefen är på dåligt humör" ("The boss is in a bad mood")

"Han är lite stressad idag, jag skulle nog vänta med det där om det inte verkligen är brådskande") "He's a bit stressed today. If I were you I'd wait until tomorrow to bring that up with him unless it's urgent."


Departures/ leaving work

"Vi ses" "See you later"

"Hej då" "Bye"

"Ha en trevlig kväll" "Have a good evening"

It can be useful to note that saying "God natt" may be a literal translation of "Good night" but it is not the generic "I'm off, see you, hope you have a nice evening" phrase that it is in the UK, but rather you're telling someone "Nighty nighty" as though they're off to bed. So stay clear of it. 

"Trevlig helg, ha så kul!" "Have a nice weekend, enjoy yourself"

"Ha det så trevligt på semestern!" "Have a nice holiday"

"Krya på dig" or "Hoppas du får vila upp dig" mean "Get well" and "I hope you get some good rest"



2) VITAL PHRASES - PART TWO: Afterwork and teambuilding

3) VITAL PHRASES - PART THREE: Tech speak in the Swedish work place

4) VITAL PHRASES - PART FOUR: Dealing with your Swedish boss

5) VITAL PHRASES - PART FIVE: How to quit your Swedish job


Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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