OK, I know I usually try to point out silly and strange small cultural differences between Americans and Swedes, but now I need your help.
I could take the time to figure this one out on my own, but this has happened to me 3 times in the last 2 months and is a bit socially awkward. So I thought maybe I would rush through the social adaptation phase and ask you guys, mostly to save myself from more embarrassment.
My question is:
What are these Swedes thinking when they open the door?
It happens like this. I ring the doorbell. A young Swede (this has mostly happened with Swedes in their mid to late twenties) answers the door. I say 'Hi' and as they open the door to let me in, they reach out and lean towards me.
Instinct tells me 'handshake!' (Two of these occurrences were in business situations and one with a new aquaintance) So I reach out my hand.
The Swede reaches out, too high for a hand shake and a little too close for my comfort.
But then my brain tells me 'hug?' and I reach out for a casual and super awkward hug.
I will admit, I am not a hugger even in the most congenial bunch of Americans. I drink a lot of coffee and I am self conscious about my breath. (although I chew a lot of gum). And really, if I want to get that close to you, you would know it.
But seriously, everything I can read from these situations tells me the Swedes are not reaching for a hug either.
I tried to watch this acquaintance greet other people at the door. It was followed by a strange pat on the shoulder. Is this a thing? I don't want to awkward hug any more business contacts. I'm fine with a handshake.
Myself when I open the door I tend to lean back and make a welcoming gesture with my free hand.
I am grateful that in most business interactions I get to meet my clients at the reception, where no doors are opened and I can initiate a handshake without all of the awkwardness.
Maybe these are just weird Swedes?