Today's foray into cultural insights takes us to the Scandinavian nation of Denmark. Let's explore some common cultural facts about this kingdom (Hint, hint!) and its citizens' expectations when it comes to training and development.
Test your knowledge of Denmark's culture:
- True or False. Denmark is considered one of the least-corrupt countries in the world.
- Chileans live in Chile. Colombians live in Colombia. What do you call the people of Denmark?
- True or False. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy.
Quick Tips for Training & Development in Denmark1:
- Many Danes work at keeping their public and private lives separate. The common perspective is "work to live," not "live to work," and they may resist overtime or discussing business matters outside of the workplace. For this reason, your Danish counterparts may limit or do away with small talk.
- Danes are often slow at making major decisions, so be prepared with all pertinent details and a generous waiting period while they deliberate.
- The Danish people tend to be independent and may seek individual achievement over group success. Keep this in mind when establishing group activities.
- While Danish is the official language, English is taught in schools and is the predominant second language. Most Danes will be excited to speak English with you, but complex training topics may be best covered in Danish.
- Danes are typically found to have a high tolerance for risk and a low index of uncertainty avoidance. Individuals are encouraged to take risks to establish themselves and develop strong self-images.
- Punctuality is highly valued, as late starts communicate incompetence and poor time management.
- Jokes may not translate well, as Danish humor is very dry and often considered out of place in business settings.
- The American greeting "How are you?" is culturally understood as a pleasantry in the States and is answered with "Doing well!" or "Fine." In Denmark, this question will be interpreted as an actual inquiry into how an individual is doing. A more appropriate greeting is "It's a pleasure to meet you."
- Gesturer beware! The American hand gesture for "okay" is considered an insult.
- True. But even so, many Danes do not regard rules as inflexible and enjoy finding ways to get around regulations.
- True. The Queen or the King is a symbolic leader; the Prime Minister is the head of government as chosen by the Parliament.
1Morrison, Terri, & Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands (2nd ed.). Avon: Adams Media.