Dependable but flexible Finnishness

As a person who was born and raised in the not-so-wild Keski-Pohjanmaa region in the middle of nowhere, I have learned to appreciate dependable yet flexible Finnish attitude. Honesty plays a big part in that, even though it’s sometimes seen as rudeness. That is what makes it easy to make agreements with Finns, because they’ll take your word for it if you have earned their trust.

Finns were awkwardly reliable in Iron Sky movie

Open-minded

If you have been so persistent that you finally got through Finnish shyness, you might notice that Finns have quite liberal attitudes. Here, you don’t have to worry too much about breaking etiquettes and taboos that could damage your relationship with local folks. On the contrary, behaviour is often relaxed and creepily honest – even in business meetings and news! That’s one reason why it’s easy to talk about almost any topic, as long as your chatting partner isn’t a complete stranger who is sitting next to you in a crowded bus.

Relaxedness can also be seen at work places, because it’s fine to chat with your boss in caféteria line while addressing that person by their first name. He/she could even get a bit embarassed if someone allowed him/her to go first only because of their title. Bragging about titles is also something that Finns like to avoid, hence those are often dropped in conversations. In fact, if someone uses too many polite expressions, a Finn might assume that person is making fun of him/her or implying that you’re old. Getting straight to the main point is seen as a favorable thing.

Don’t make promises too casually

Words always hold a meaning, as they are not used merely out of politeness. You might have thought it was just small talk when you promised to go to a bar with your childhood friend, who you just met in a busy market, and then forget the whole thing. That same person may call later and actually confirm a date for your bar visit. You should be aware of your schedule promises that you casually made with your boss in that caféteria line too, because he/she probably forwarded that information to your collegues as your accurate work plan! Finns are fortunately flexible folks, therefore little misunderstandings are harmless if you fix them early.

ahtisaari_Karjalainen_saunasta

Martti Ahtisaari in sauna in Africa 1974. © Ulkoministeriö

If you want to combine openmindness and honest opinions, have a meeting in sauna. That’s a place where everyone is equal and stripped of formalities. Compromises are easily found in sauna as well, because Finns like to avoid awkward situations and no one wants to fight in sauna!

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