Smart dress is expected of businesspeople in Norway and prior appointments are necessary. Norwegian businesspeople tend to be formal and reserved, and punctuality is essential. English is widely spoken and business cards are usually exchanged during meetings. The best months for business visits are February to May and October to December.
Morning meetings usually take place in offices, while early afternoon and lunchtime appointments frequently take place in restaurants. If a late-morning meeting is arranged, it is good practice to issue a lunch invitation but bear in mind that whoever extends the invitation usually pays for the meal. Traditionally, lunch is a light snack but in a business context, it may involve a more substantial meal.
English is widely spoken, and in the business community, the language is usually spoken to a very high standard. Most Norwegians also speak Danish and Swedish, and knowledge of French and German is common. Normal business hours are between 8am and 4pm, with employees leaving their offices promptly to return home for middag (dinner), eaten at around 1700. However, when an invitation is offered to either dine out or eat at the home of a business colleague, the meal will often be scheduled for slightly later in the evening. Criticism of, or jokes about, peoples, cultures or systems should generally be avoided as many Norwegians pride themselves on their political correctness.
Norwegians are direct and ready to negotiate, with minimum small talk. Trust is important and, in negotiation, Norwegians are less likely to indulge in tactical dealing and will be more interested in the facts of the product than personality or social skills. Visitors should make a fair pitch with room for a little adjustment but not an initial offer that could subsequently be seen as a negotiating tactic, as this may be perceived as dishonest.