Danes 🇩🇰 are cool ☃ but not only in a good way 😬
What is worse, the coolness rubs off on internationals 🌏 But don’t let it!
I will explain why further below but first, just to correct myself. It is a very unnuanced generalization to say all Danes are cold-ish. Many Danes are as warm blooded as Argentinians 🇦🇷 💃 🙂
What is true, though, is that we hide it very well in daytime, as it is not how we Danes behave. Our work culture in corporate settings is to 'keep cool, calm and collected.'
Why? Well, one reason is that our religion, the religion of efficiency 😁 is adhered to in most companies and organizations. Whatever is efficient is good, and what is seemingly inefficient is not great. Such as showing emotions (including a lot of enthusiasm), lengthy discussions, or coffee breaks for more than five minutes. All are not on the face of it very efficient and will make most Danes uncomfortable. Maybe because Danes do not see the point – or because they hear that others are already drumming their fingers on the table. The collective Danish awareness, is tilting towards efficiency.
What to do?
Firstly, resist the urge to become a Dane. It is a natural psychological effect to try to blend in – but don’t do it. It will end badly. Internationals who let go of the way they relate to others usually become not so great editions of themselves – and not great at leading anyone.
As it happens, if you do, the whole point of bringing innovative and diverse thinking flies out the window – to the detriment of the company as well.
Secondly, acknowledge that this is what is going on. Cultures collide and you are trying to fit in.
Thirdly, try to go the honest route. Tell your close associates, your colleagues and employees that you will do it differently, as it works for you - and make sure to always pull the efficiency-card: “I am Argentinian, and I would welcome five minutes of introductions as it in my opinion raises our efficiency (!) in these discussions when we know each other better. And coffee needs to last at least 15 minutes for us to chat. At least.”
Finally, forgive yourself when you don’t succeed. 😏 Danes are not easily swayed and you will feel awkward. But you have at least been honest – and will have an easier time when you wish to reduce the Danishness of a meeting next time around. If not for you then for the other non-Danes in the meeting.
And for the sake of welcoming diversity of thought.
Denmark when it is truly cool and beautiful 😄 This is Svanemøllen if you were curious.