Finnish communication culture

Nokia mobile
My current mobile, Hayden

Let’s talk about the Finnish communication culture. Here even a ‘Hi’ to your neighbours seems to be the most difficult thing. Heaven forbid if you say that word to a stranger. Something horrible must happen. I really hate when I say ‘Hi’ to a person and there’s no reply. Maybe if you call a person to say it, maybe then you get a ‘Hi’ back. Especially for young people it seems to be the most difficult thing there is. If they had any manners, they would know that if the persons is older than you, then you’re the one who should say ‘Hi’ first. So what if you don’t know the person? I wonder how they get friends in the first place. We’re all strangers at first anyway. So why is a simple word such a difficult thing to say? Just a simple ‘Hi’ is enough. You don’t have to stop for a conversation.

It’s in the Finnish culture that you don’t talk to stranger if there’s not a reason to say anything. My mother told me I could greet a person anyway even if I don’t get a reply. But it’s easier said and done. I rather not say anything because I know there won’t be a ‘Hi’ back. Finns don’t talk, we nod. But a nod is better than nothing at all. I try to say ‘Hi’ to people I don’t know but when I don’t get a reply, I feel like a fool. It’s embarrassing trying to be friendly to people and then they don’t react in any way. ‘Good morning’ is a difficult thing to say for a Finn as well it seems. There’s two words in that so if must be too many to say. Sometimes Finns do say it but then they know the person. It’s the ‘talking to strangers’ that is too overwhelming. That one I do understand but that’s only because I’m an introvert and not because I’m Finnish.

My mother used to talk to strangers. But they had the look “why are you talking to me, I don’t know you” look. Especially younger people have it. You would think they would be more sophisticated when it comes to manners but it isn’t so. Finns prefer short answers and only talk to people they know. When you hear that Finns are rude, some people are. They only pretend to be friendly to tourists but the truth is they rather be left alone. It also depends what part of Finland they come from. I’ve known people who are outgoing and talkative but they’re usually from Northern Finland or born closer to Russia. If the Finn is born in the Ostrobothnia region then they are more friendly. But if they are from Southern Finland, they can be quite unfriendly. There are myths about how Finns are and some of them are true. In every country there’s always someone who seems rude so it’s not only a Finnish thing.

Even if we’re bad at communication, not all is bad. We’re honest and if we have an appointment, we always arrive in time. We’re also proud of our heritage. If you want to make a Finn happy, compliment Finland in every positive way. Even the mention Finland or Finnish in foreign media will make headlines over here. It gets better if a Finn get great success abroad. A good example is the recent Xfactor competition in the UK where Saara Aalto is taking part. For you in Europe might know what I’m talking about. Every time she has been shortlisted to the next level, there’s big headlines of it. I don’t watch that kind of shows so I don’t know anything about what that competition is really about. As long as a Finn finds success, everything is great. It’s after a Finn fails when the monsters come out and play, a.k.a. Finnish jealousy. That’s another story.

Communication in Finland means mobile phones. That’s one of the reasons why Nokia phones were so popular. If you want long conversations, call a Finn. But you need to know them first. Small talk is a swear word over here. We don’t do it no matter what. That’s the reason Facebook is more popular than Twitter. It’s easier to tell your friends on FB about what goes on in your life than telling strangers on Twitter what’s going on. If you happened to talk to a Finn face to face, it’s because they’re drunk. Other times they ignore you. It’s kind of sad really that alcohol is a way to get them talk to strangers. Especially Finnish men. You can’t have a decent conversation with drunk people. If Finns weren’t so alcohol thirsty, this country would be a better place to live in. But it’s also a good country where you have freedom to do things without having to fear authority. If people could only open they’re mouth to say ‘Hi’, it would be even a better place.



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