Cultural Clues… Do’s & Taboos
A series of cultural tips for countries from A to Z
Communication Guidelines for Denmark
Many Europeans and South Americans write the day first, then the month, then the year. For example, October 21, 2005, is written 21.10.05. This is the custom in Denmark.
Although you may get the impression in your business dealings that Danes initially appear to be reserved or distant, in fact they can be a very warm people who enjoy lengthy conversations and being with friends. They are especially at ease at home and in other social settings.
It is considered rude to get too friendly with someone with whom you have only a casual acquaintance. This includes questions about the person’s private life or comments about religion, income and family.
Danish business introductions consist of a formal and solemn exchange. If you are sitting and being introduced to a new contact or associate, be sure to stand up before extending your hand. Offer a firm handshake as you make eye contact. Any effort that you make to include a Danish greeting into your introduction, e.g., “Goddag” meaning “Good Day”, will be appreciated.
The Danes desire that each minute spent on the job is productive and used effectively. It is important to arrive on time and be prepared to give a polished presentation. Meetings move swiftly and will start and end on time.
Many people are flattered by compliments about how they look or clothing they’re wearing, but this is not the case with Danes. Danes sometimes consider compliments to be inappropriate.
Traditional Danish culture is always a safe topic. Showing an interest in anything Danish from Danish furniture design to Hans Christian Andersen or Legos is much appreciated.
Denmark is a social welfare state in which the quality of life and environmental issues are given key priority.
There is an emphasis on individual initiative and achievement, with one’s competency being more important than his or her station in life. The dignity and worth of individuals is promoted along with the right to a private life and opinions.
Giving preferential treatment to anyone is discouraged. Denmark is such an equality entrenched society that you are expected to give the same preferential treatment to a janitor that you would to the organization president.
In comparison with other European countries, Denmark is one of the most progressive when it comes to equality between men and women. Moreover, Denmark ranks number one when it comes to the greatest percentage of women working outside the home and many women hold top positions in Danish companies.
It would be a mistake to introduce a business plan that will have detrimental side effects for the environment. You will find that Danes are committed to preserving the environment.
The Danes freely express their feelings. You may find them blunt, but that is their way. Be receptive to their comments and respond in a positive tone.
Danes are very tolerant, so it is not advisable to criticize other people or systems.
The Danish sense of humor tends to be more reserved or dry than the American sense of humor.
Generally speaking, Danes are people of their word. Once an agreement is signed, you can be certain that the project will move forward.
Welcome Topics of Conversation
- Denmark! Danes are very proud and willing to share about their country.
- Anything related to art, music and culture.
- The progressive nature of business in Denmark, and the equality between men and women.
- Your home country and the region you are from.
- Non-controversial current events.
Conversation to Avoid
- Avoid mentioning family and personal affairs, unless the topic is brought up.
- Don’t initiate discussions about your private life or religion.
- Avoid talking about personal finances.
- Avoid discussions about politics and socialism.
- Never talk about anyone in terms in inequality.
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