Finnish unwritten rules


We finns like to think we are a very unique nation. There are some unwritten rules that we follow on daily bases that might seem weird to someone from another culture.

  1. Keeping our distance.

It is true that we like to keep our distance (preferably as wide as possible) to strangers and even with our friends and family. Personally i get a little anxious when strangers get closer then 1 meter from me. I don’t think I’m the only finn feeling this way. Every finnish person know the rules how to respect each others personal space. You can see it in many various situations, such as:

  • Meeting someone new: it’s always an polite and firm hand shake. Never ever
    expect us to hug you or give you cheek
  • kisses. That is just weird and awkward for us.
  • Whe in elevators we like to stand close to the walls and preferaply corners. We avoid eye contact and keep quiet during the ride.
  • We won’t sit right next to one another. Only if there is absolutelly no choice we do that but otherwise it’s just not going to happen. Always leave at least one seat in between.
  • When we are leaving from our apartments we won’t open the door right away, if we hear someone walking in the hallway. No, we wait until the person has gone. No need for any unexpected and awkward human contact.
  1. No interruptions

For us it is simply rude to interrupt someone when their speaking. It makes both parties feel uncomfortable so we just avoid that. We speak our minds, when the person talking is done.

  1. Punctuality

We are a very punctional nation. We are always rather 10 minutes early then even 1 minute late. It is simply not accepted. We also expect everyone else to be on time, no excuses.

  1. Reliability

That is something that we are very proud of. There is nothing in the world you could trust more then a finnish promise. We will do what ever it takes to keep our promise. And what we can’t do, that we won’t promise.

  1. Modesty

Nothing makes you better than modesty. It makes it hard for us to accept compliments and credits. To be credited for your work, or even worse, to be credited for your work infront of your co-workers is just awful for us. I get chills even thinking about it.

  1. Whining

That is the national sport of Finland, whining. Nothing is ever good enough and nothing is ever perfect. Especially whe it is about the weather. It is always too hot, too dark, too rainy, too windy too what ever. We also compit with our friends about our miseries. Who has slept the least or the worse, who has the least money, who has the most homework, the least free time. You simply can not win a finn in a competition of whining.

  1. Sauna and alcohol

Those two are the main things in our culture. Propably because they keep us both sane and warm. There is absolutelly nothing you can not talk about in sauna, especially if you are drunk. Its the place of bonding, relaxing and sharing.

1 thought on “Finnish unwritten rules

  1. Can you generalize about a culture? If that were the case, it would be easy to predict how nations act during war. Margaret Mead was asked to do a study on the Japanese “culture” to help the US with its war effort with that country in WW2. Conclusion: impossible because cultures are too complex and made up of many subcultures. Therefore, these types of generalizations reinforce perceptions and stereotypes. Sad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *