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Guide to dealing with your Swedish boss

Ann Törnkvist · 10 Feb 2014, 11:36

Published: 10 Feb 2014 11:36 GMT+01:00

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Dealing with the boss

Anyone who has lived in Sweden for a while will have noticed the preposterously liberal use of the adjective "Absolut". Rather than asking for a shot of Swedish vodka, you're basically saying "Of course". So if your boss asks you, for example:

"Kan du ringa kunden" ("Can you call the client?") or "Har du tid att kolla upp detaljerna?" ("Do you have time to check the details?") you know what to say:

"Absolut" ("Of course")

If your boss is stressed or something is urgent you may want to point out that you're on it.

"Jag tar itu med det här på en gång" ("I will deal with this straight away")

"På studs" ("Right away" but literally "On the bounce") is an even snappier way to say you're on it, like, already five minutes ago. 

If you show up late..... 

"Ursäkta att jag är sen" ("Sorry I’m late!") 

Your boss will love efficiency so if you ever get the chance to use this phrase, do so.

"När är deadline?" or "När ska det här vara klart?" ("When’s the deadline?" or "When should this be finished by?")

And if, by luck, two projects can be wrapped up in one, why not venture into pronoun territory?

"Vi slår två flugor i en smäll" ("We'll kill two birds with one stone" but literally "Two flies in one swat")

And as for anglicisms that have crept into Swedish, don't be surprised if an entrepreneurial boss screeches:

"Okej, nu brainstormar vi det här!" (OK, let's brainstorm this) ("un brainstorming" has also crept into French, by the way). And once the job is well done and done well, maybe you want some appreciation for the effort:

"Jag vill förhandla om löneförhöjning" ("I want to negotiate pay rise")

Your boss will then either say no or ask you to justify it. To which you could respond:

"Jag jobbar som ett djur"  (I work hard as an animal) 

Your boss might respond, however, that your place of work doesn't hold individual salary negotiations, by simply stating:

"Vi har kollektivavtal"  ("We have a collective bargaining agreement") or, if they're feeling snarky, snapping "Ta det med facket" ("Bring it up with the union")



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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