Scandinavian Mentality

Scandinavians are uncomplicated in their dealings with one another. They are reserved, modest and unobtrusive and do not like to stand out from one another. This is probably one of the reasons why it is customary in all Scandinavian countries to be on first-name terms – in business and with authorities. They respect each other, leave each other alone, but are also there for each other when someone needs help. This is reflected in the tax systems of the Scandinavian countries. Taxes are comparatively high, but they also flow back to the citizens in the form of transfers. People take care of each other.

Business attire is more casual than in some other European counties, especially in Germany. Clear forms and simple elegance are preferred. Shirts, trousers and sweaters are common in Scandinavian countries. Ties are rarely worn. In Denmark, you can also meet business people in well-groomed jeans.

In Scandinavia, it is customary to make an appointment for every meeting. Scandinavians are very punctual. You arrive neither too early nor too late, but right on time. Greetings are brief and not always with a handshake. Small talk with Scandinavians is usually kept brief. They serve only as a brief introduction; you quickly get to the heart of the meeting. Scandinavians usually smile in a very friendly manner, but they still maintain a professionally detached way of communicating. Facial expressions and gestures are less pronounced than in Germans, which is saying something. Also, the distance to people which Scandinavians perceive as comfortable is greater than in Germany.

Scandinavians are very transparent and treat each other with respect. But they don’t like controversial discussions. They tend to seek agreement, a balanced compromise (Swedes refer to this behavior as “lagom,” which means “not too much and not too little”). Decisions are made together. Everyone is involved. If something goes wrong, Scandinavians don’t look for someone to blame, but for the cause of undesirable developments. This makes the working atmosphere with Scandinavians pleasant and constructive.

Everything seems to run more smoothly in Scandinavia than in other countries. Scandinavians try to avoid stress. They take the necessary time for everything without dawdling. There is no rushing. If you are in a hurry, you don’t have everything under control. A work-life balance is important to Scandinavians. Don’t make appointments with Scandinavians after 4 pm. Breaks are welcome and respected in Scandinavia. No one is asked about work issues during breaks. Scandinavians know that breaks are needed for performance and creativity.

Scandinavians negotiate at eye level. This is consistent with their principle of equality. When negotiating with Scandinavians, get to the point precisely, but be open to other points of view and arguments. Negotiations are fact-based, not relationship-based. This requires good preparation in terms of content. Denmark is a trading nation. You will feel this when negotiating with Danes, who can be tough negotiators.

Look also to the British mentality, the Swiss mentality, the Austrian mentality, the Spanish mentality, the Dutch mentality, the French mentality, the Turkish mentality, the US-American mentality, the Italian mentality, the Latin American mentality, the Indian mentality, the Chinese mentality, the Japanese mentality, the Russian mentality, and the Arab mentality.


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