top of page

I will tell them about you

In January I will be speaking to Danes about you. I will tell them about how it is being an international in Denmark. Yes. A bit curious considering I am a Dane 🇩🇰🇩🇰🇩🇰 But my talk will mostly be about why your arrival - the arrival of internationals - to a Danish workplace can challenge Danes. And how Danes should “go about” their own feeling of being challenged by you. “How can I challenge Danes?” you may think. “This is such a ‘sticky’ culture - my presence doesn’t seem to rattle anyone 😂 Seems like they carry on nicely - speaking Danglish and being very nicely Danish in their ways”. It is true. Danes are not easily changed in their ways. But your arrival - whether as an intern or as the CEO - does challenge Danes in the workplace. How? Here is a couple of thoughts: - Danes are being reminded that they enjoy their privacy. And they do not want to compromise on it. And at the same time they do not want to seem too unfriendly. So … you might get a lunch invitation. But not a dinner at home. And they feel a bit bad about it - which is uncomfortable as they see themselves as very friendly! So they may have to adjust the view they have of themselves 😏 - Danes are being reminded of their personal boundaries. It is very comfortable being around Danes all the time as most of them understand Danish personal space. With you internationals they have to acknowledge that something is off (“She is standing a bit closer than I enjoy …” “Her lunch is oppressingly smelly”). And then decide if they need to tell you. Which would be highly embarrassing. But necessary for a Dane if personal space is encroached upon on a regular basis. - Danes are being reminded of their Danglish. They know they should be nice and speak English all the time but they do not like feeling incompetent. And speaking English does make a lot of Danes feel incompetent. Even if their English is more than adequate. As you see, you arrival brings up discomfort to Danes - even if you do all you can to not be annoying. And that is not a bad thing. To my experience the discomfort we experience from stretching ourselves - to understand ourselves and to encompass others - is the good kind of discomfort. It makes us more tolerant towards ourselves, to our own emotions, to others - and maybe even make us able to express some of them to other people. Not a bad thing at all. NB: Making Danes understand their discomfort is not to my mind taking away from work on diversity but seeking to ensure the same: To enhance the ability of Danes to see that they have a role in ensuring that you - the minority - will not continue to be excluded from the majority culture. But until they recognize their 'bias' and discomfort, we will not be able to engage them in this work. #onboarddenmark #internationals #leadership This is a photo I took while walking around the Lakes of Copenhagen - alone. As some Danes very happily do 😂 even without feeling lonely and sad! Isn’t that interesting?!🤓

0 views0 comments
Recent posts