Danish etiquette: "ignoring people is polite here" artwork
What The Denmark | Danish Culture for Expats, Internationals and Danes

Danish etiquette: "ignoring people is polite here"

  • S2E3
  • 45:35
  • November 4th 2021

Danish culture is premised on various values such as trust, equality and respect for privacy.

Whilst this has many virtues, from an outsider perspective, this can also appear to play out in scenarios where Danes come across as... well, a bit rude.

For example, it's not natural for Danish people to hold the door open for each other, or to offer help for someone struggling to take a baby stroller off a train.

In this episode Sam and Josefine are joined by Danish anthropologist Dennis Nørmark.

We talk about a whole range of scenarios in Danish culture that can seem perplexing to outsiders, but begin to make sense when viewed through the Danish prism (for example, buying your own birthday cake on your birthday?!)

We discuss various other things such as:

  • How whether cultures seem cold/ rude is linked to the sense of privacy
  • How Denmark (and Scandinavian countries) are in fact living a sort of extreme individualism
  • Why Danish people won't instinctively help people struggling in public
  • How Danes view specific reciprocity vs generalised reciprocity in other cultures
  • How the trust in Denmark means there's not the need to "get to know" people you do business with
  • How the smiley face is the Danish word for please
  • Giving and receiving gifts
  • The fear (or not) of being laughed at

You can learn more about Dennis' work at: https://dennisnormark.dk/

Thanks to Hotel Mayfair in Central Copenhagen for hosting us for the recording. You can get 25% off your stay by using the code WTD at checkout

Learn more about What The Denmark via: www.whatthedenmark.com and @whatthedenmark on Instagram

What The Denmark | Danish Culture for Expats, Internationals and Danes

Danish culture can be pretty confusing, especially if you are not from Denmark.

This podcast is on a mission to resolve cultural confusion in the country.

Co-hosts Sam Floy (British podcaster, "The Outsider") and Josefine Volqvartz (Danish TV journalist, "The Insider") speak to experts and members of the public to understand and explain why something so normal in Danish culture is confusing to outsiders.

Rather than simply point fun, or say something like "Danes have an ironic sense of humour" we go deep, by speaking to experts to explain why.

Importantly, this show is as much for Danes as it is non-Danes.

What The Denmark is an educational, entertaining and inclusive show where we take a curious look at things that seem normal in Denmark, and get to the bottom of why.

If you've ever felt that you want to understand more about Denmark and Danish culture, then this is the podcast for you!

Learn more at https://www.whatthedenmark.com/