Tuesday, December 05, 2006


How come Swedish people answer the phone by stating their names and how come American answer the phone by saying "Hello?"?

What is the cultural background to this phenomena? Is it the American privacy issue (but then why do you have caller id - and sooner or later you have to state you who are anyway?)? Or is it explained by the Swedish wanting to be dutiful and correct?

I really have a hard time adjusting to the "Hellos", and stubbornly keep answer the phone by "JaCal speaking".

I'm thinking I'm saving everybody some time.

The American way:

- Hello?
- Hello, is Lisa at home?
- This is Lisa!
- Oh, hello, Lisa this is Mary!
- Oh, hello Mary!

The Swedish way:

- This is Lisa!
- Hi, Lisa this is Mary!

Simpler, easier, faster!


Anonymous said...

You are too funny! Yes, we Americans do many things differently from the Swedes. What can I say? We're American. If we did things the Swedish way, we'd be Swedish.

Annika said...

Sara, right on the money!!!

But this is VERY true...I think that the Swedish way is better...But, i am a swede, sooo...

JaCal said...

And the time I try to save on shortening phone conversations in the US, I will loose trying to get the bill in a Swedish restaurant - so the sum of time is equal! ;-)

Annika said...

That you will, that you will!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ah, first of all you didn't mention that in Sweden you pay per minute on the phone...

Now, the reason we do not give our names out over the phone is because we do not know who is calling. What business is it of some unknown person--could be a maniac on the other end--to have our name. Never! Thus, we say "Hello." Actually many Americans just use the answering machine to act as an electronic secretary for them so they don't have to bother picking up the phone and because you don't pay per minute there, you can call back at your leisure and need feel like Pavlov's dog and have to respond to a bell,i.e., the phone ringing.

(I'm so glad I can clear these cultural problems up for you now that I know both cultures. :>)

JaCal said...

Well, according to my phone bills, we pay by the minute here as well, unless you call locally. And if you screen your calls and then call back - you're the one paying for the phone call - so you would then loose money... ? ;-)

I think it's a bit like the French who refuses to have their name on their mailboxes. It's a privacy issue.. but at one point, sooner or later you really have to state who you are.

Lucily not too many maniacs call my number, only friends and I'm happy to save some of their time by stating right away who I am... ;-)