You cannot accuse me of topicality. The following was put on a government website two years ago. The reason I’m coming so late to the party is that I was looking at my region’s resources for newbies, including a link to the below article. In Danish (Funnily enough, a lot of the links go to Danish language pages, what on earth?)
This is what they wrote on Workindenmark.dk about The Danish Mentality (The link does not work, at the time of writing, maybe the site is down?)
It’s obviously mostly bollocks (how could you hope to encapsulate 5 million people’s mentality into such a small space?), but there is some truth hiding between the lines. Especially the bit about friends.
What happened to Jante, do you think?
Most Danes value equality, cosiness, individuality and democracy. Danes’ tone is informal in comparison with many other countries. Friends, family members and colleagues are addressed with the informal “you” and their first name. It is also normal to address managers by their first name. The informal tone is also found in the educational system, where students address their teachers by first name.
Discussion and debate are fundamental aspects of Dane’s upbringing, both in society and in families. This means that many Danes have a fundamental awareness that it is possible to speak up and have an influence. In the business world, you will find the democratic process and structures that characterise Denmark. Associations also have a social, informative and democratic influence.
Cosiness and humour
Cosiness is a very important part of what one could call the Danish mentality. It can be difficult to translate the Danish concept of “hygge” (cosiness), but you will quickly realise that it is closely related to feeling good about one another and that food and drink are often involved.
Humour is also a significant element, and for many Danes, humour involves a large serving of irony. It can be difficult to understand this irony to start out, but it is important to understand if you wish to understand Danes’ mentality.
Friends and acquaintances
In Denmark, friendships often develop after a long period of acquaintance, and Danes generally distinguish between friends and acquaintances. In their private lives as well as in associations, Danes surround themselves with a network that is developed over a long period of time. A relationship of trust must be established before a Dane will enter into an agreement with a new business partner.
In Denmark, importance is placed on everyone being equal and having equal rights without regard to social background and origin.
Thus, one could be led to believe that Danes are anti-individualists; however, this is far from the truth. As in most other European countries, Danes have a fundamental belief in the rights of the individual and career, housing, etc are selected based on individual needs. Entrepreneurship and initiative are prized and self-confidence is generally high among Danes.
This ability to combine individualism with a focus on the welfare of the group is what one observer dubbed “social individualism”.