Danish business culture is somewhat similar to what you’re used to in the US. If you’re about to meet your prospective Danish business partners for the first time, you don’t need to worry about strict rules for business communication or an entirely unfamiliar business culture. Danes are quite easy-going and flexible, and although Danish business culture tends to be a bit more formal than what you’re used to in the US, doing business in Denmark is not that different from negotiations on your home ground.
Danish businesspeople are usually straightforward. They tend to value honesty, punctuality, and a deep knowledge of your subject.
Danish businesspeople are usually straightforward. They tend to value honesty, punctuality, and a deep knowledge of your subject. If you come well-prepared, you won’t experience any unpleasant surprises during negotiations. In any case, your partners will respect your knowledge and achievements. However, there are a few tricks that could help you impress your partner even more, and tip the scales in your favor.
Learn a few phrases
Danish is a north Germanic language spoken by Danes. It’s quite similar to both Swedish and Norwegian, which means that a person who speaks any of the three tends to understand the other two fairly well. Nobody expects you to learn Danish, but since it’s a small language spoken by about six million people, Danes are usually grateful when somebody makes an effort to learn a few phrases of their language.
Danish is a north Germanic language spoken by Danes. It’s quite similar to both Swedish and Norwegian, which means that a person who speaks any of the three tends to understand the other two fairly well
Here are a few easy Danish expressions you can use to impress your partner.
- Hello = Goddag or Hej (this latter is a bit more informal).
- Goodbye = Farvel.
- Yes = Ja.
- No = Nej.
- Thank you = Tak.
- What’s your name? = Hvad hedder du?
- My name is … = Jeg hedder ….
- Where are you from? = Hvor kommer du fra?
- I’m from… = Jeg kommer fra …
- I don’t speak Danish = Jeg taler ikke dansk.
Danish culture is based on equality. Regardless of age, race, education, social standing, gender, sexual orientation, or wealth, each person deserves to be treated equally, since nobody is better than anybody else. This notion is deeply rooted in the Danish psyche. Your business partner won’t think they’re better than you, and if you return the favor and approach your partner with modesty and humility, you’ll make an excellent impression on them. While in some cultures, women have to work harder to be acknowledged as equal to their male counterparts, Denmark has no such issues. Regardless of your gender or any other personal feature of yours, you can expect fair and equal treatment. Make sure to return the favor.
Regardless of your gender or any other personal feature of yours, you can expect fair and equal treatment
CSR and Environmental Responsibility
Denmark places great emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Many, if not most businesses have a CSR strategy or action plan in place. Explaining what your small business does in that area, as well as enquiring about your partner’s CSR actions, might be a good way to impress them.
Similarly, Denmark is at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Danes are very environmentally conscious and put great importance on protecting our planet for future generations. Comparing notes about this subject can deepen your mutual respect for each other and build the basis for a long and fruitful relationship.
Dry sense of humor
Danes tend to have a dry sense of humor, often infused with irony and self-deprecation. Outsiders might find it strange at first how Danes can make fun of even the most serious issues and utter a sarcastic remark about an otherwise sensitive topic. Don’t be alarmed if this happens to you during a business meal or a relaxed conversation over coffee. If you’re comfortable with this type of humor, you can respond in a similar way. If this is not your cup of tea, don’t worry about coming up with an equally funny comeback. Just follow your partner’s lead and laugh whenever it feels appropriate.
No sexists or crude jokes
While it’s true that Danes like to make fun of many issues, they will never cross the line and make a crude, racist or sexist joke at somebody’s expense. If you decide to go along with your partner’s sarcastic banter, steer clear of any remarks or jokes that could be interpreted as offensive, racist, or sexist.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah or hue-gah) is an important part of Danish culture. While it’s nearly impossible to provide a perfect translation, hygge means something like “being comfortable and cozy while enjoying good food, drink, and company”. If your partner invites you for a social outing, express your interest in this very Danish phenomenon and learn about hygge, which largely contributes to Denmark being one of the happiest countries on the planet.
Punctuality and Efficiency
Danes are extremely punctual. Make sure to arrive on time and don’t make your meeting longer than absolutely necessary. Danes place great importance on their work-life balance; try not to schedule any meetings after working hours, and don’t expect your partner to return your calls or emails over the weekend.
Danes are extremely punctual. Make sure to arrive on time and don’t make your meeting longer than absolutely necessary.
Efficiency is valued when receiving payment as well. If you choose to pay your Danish supplier through Veem, you can rest assured that your payment will reach your partner quickly, efficiently, and securely. Sending payment through Veem is as easy as sending an email, and it costs a lot less than ordering a transfer from your bank.