How to befriend with Danes-2: ‘Learn to discuss, not to debate’

Official website of denmark

Official website of denmark



[This is the first in the series of posts, where I will share some of my personal experiences on how to befriend with Danes]

Thank you very much everybody for your encouraging and praiseworthy comments on my previous posts. Before moving further, let me also clarify matter related to one of the comments posted about my last blog post. Each blog posts is based on my personal observations, experiences, and research. Such experiences may differ from person to person. Therefore I advise every reader to read my write-ups in the same way. Consider them as a supportive guide, not a definite rule to follow.

Last time, I discussed about the importance of being patient, while attempting to befriend with Danes. In this post, I will talk about importance of having fruitful discussions in increasing rapport with Danes. We can judge by a simple example.

I was sitting in a regular meeting of BEST (Board of European Students of Technology) chapter at DTU(Technical University of Denmark). We were discussing about an upcoming engineering competition. At one point, a native Danes said, ‘In Denmark, we love to discuss but not to debate’. It is not about arguing endlessly after taking one side, but trying to arrive on mutually agreeable opinions covering every side. It reduces the conflict and decision made at the end is acceptable to everyone. Not just about discussion with classmates, I experienced this phenomenon very much true during most of my interactions with Danes.

Being an avid reader of many different areas of life, I often found a common ground to interact with Danes. Danes are always curious to know, what a foreigner feel about their country. This can also be true for each one of us about our own countries. Often, this gave me possibility to initiated a conversation which, then lasted for a very longer duration.

Majority of Danes love to have a discussion about range of topics. For example, apart from interacting about chemical engineering; I discussed about Africa, Danish Film Industry, and Denmark’s position in EU with my university professor. Many Danes have good knowledge in range of fields. You may be wondering, why it is like that. There are some obvious answers.

Danish people travels a lot. There is very high chance to meet many Danes in Denmark, who have recently been to your native land. Danish economy counts on knowledgeable society as its biggest asset. Apart from traveling around the world, Danes also have a very good understanding of world affairs. Very high penetration of Internet and high individual usage of internet reflect this trend. They also have a reasonably clear picture of their government standing in important matters. This can also be true for employees of small firms aware of their management plans.

Forget about everything I have said so far; even during the ordinary meetings, Danes try to arrive on any decision through the process of consensus building. That is, through the process of discussion. Even if someone argus, it is not about creating conflict. It is rather more about raising opinions. Opinion of every individual present in the meeting is honored before arriving on final decision. This is contrary to top-down approach of decision making in some other places of the world. So, learn to have your opinion in matters not just related to your professional life, but also related to other areas of life. Because in Denmark, Danes love to hear your opinions.

What to discuss with Danes? Well, this is a very difficult question to answer. At the start, Danes may look bit reserved in communicating their ideas with a new person. Later, they become pretty straight forward in commenting, suggesting and even criticizing the view point. I found some people did not like fun-filled ways of commenting on others viewpoints. It is not about hurting someone but just the way of communicating opinion in slightly lighter manner. So, ff you are a sensitive person with less inclination to accept such approach in communication, then may be you can refrain from discussing topics sensitive to you.

It can be difficult to break ice with Danes. First patience and then ability to have your say in different matters will make you closer to them. In the next post, I will talk about some other interesting aspect of living comfortably in Denmark and socializing with Danes. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: This entire post is based on my personal experiences.And it has to be read in the similar context.

First appeared in my blog at Denmark.dk on 30-11-2015

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