What would happen if you applied the principles of Danish business meetings in your own workplace?
The day you attend your first Danish business meeting might be the day your perspective on effective business communication changes for good. In Denmark, a laid-back demeanor and friendly countenance are common traits of the locals, yet when it comes to business interactions, there is a noted shift towards formality and adherence to certain customs. As you prepare to enter business dealings with Danish associates, it's crucial to understand the conduct of a typical Danish business meeting and how to establish a positive, professional rapport from the onset. Here's a set of instructions to assist you in making a favorable first impression on Danish business colleagues at your very first meeting in Denmark.
Bear in mind, these guidelines are also applicable to business encounters in Norway and Sweden!
1. Telephone conversations
Initiating a professional relationship often begins with a phone call – a communication mode favored by Danes over emailing.
Be aware of certain telephone manners, however. When you receive a call, introduce yourself with your name, for instance, "This is Jim", or "Speaking, Anna". A casual "Hello?" might confuse the person on the other end, leading them to believe they've dialed an incorrect number.
When making a call, after the recipient has introduced themselves, follow suit by stating your name, your organization, and the purpose of your call. For instance: "Hi, this is Jim Smith, I am with My Business, I was wondering if we could arrange our meeting for next month." This approach ensures the recipient is immediately aware of your identity and the reason for your call. Any missing details could lead to misunderstanding.
2. Handshake protocol and identification
It is standard practice in Denmark to greet with a solid, but not overly firm, handshake.
Remember to maintain eye contact and wear a friendly smile. Your handshake should be genuine and assured, as this signifies your credibility and professionalism. When introducing yourself, use both your first and last names. If applicable, you may also share your job title. While Danes commonly use first names even in professional contexts, demonstrating respect and formality during the initial meeting is important. In subsequent meetings, first-name basis interactions are pretty much expected.
Ensure to individually greet everyone present in the room, offering a handshake and sharing your name. Though this might feel unfamiliar to some, in Denmark, this practice is commonplace. Neglecting to acknowledge someone could result in an uncomfortable atmosphere.
3. Language Preference
Being able to converse in Danish is an excellent way to show respect for your business partner's culture. If you are not fluent in Danish, English is generally an acceptable substitute. Requesting permission to converse in English is a polite gesture.
4. Personal Space
Danes highly appreciate personal space. Make sure not to encroach upon their space by standing too close or moving too near.
Strive to exude positivity and enthusiasm upon arrival at the meeting. A sullen or unemotional expression can be off-putting to Danes, hindering the establishment of a fresh, positive relationship. Project energy and genuine delight for the meeting.
6. Voicing Opinions and Ideas
Denmark has a strong culture of open communication, particularly in business settings.
Speaking up and contributing to discussions is not only accepted but also highly encouraged. In a Danish business meeting, everyone's opinions and ideas are valued, regardless of their rank or position in the company. This egalitarian approach encourages an open exchange of ideas and promotes creativity and innovation. Be prepared to share your thoughts and to listen respectfully to others.
However, it's essential to express your opinions tactfully and professionally.
Danish people appreciate directness, but it's crucial to maintain politeness and respect for differing viewpoints. In other words, don't shy away from putting forth your ideas, but ensure your delivery promotes constructive dialogue. This kind of open communication style fosters trust and understanding within a team, helping to build strong and effective working relationships.
Remember to be genuine and sincere in your communications - these qualities are greatly appreciated in Danish business culture.
It's also worth noting that humor, particularly self-deprecating humor, is often used in Danish business meetings. This can help to create a relaxed atmosphere and can be an effective tool for building rapport with your Danish colleagues. However, be cautious not to overdo it or to use humor inappropriately.
7. Dress Code
Choose your attire thoughtfully.
Danish business meetings often lean towards a "business casual" style, which for men typically includes a dress shirt, jacket, and jeans or other comfy trousers. Women may opt for a similar ensemble, with the option of a dress, skirt, and shirt. It's advised to avoid very high heels, glaring brand logos, and conspicuous gel nails.
Your chosen outfit can vary depending on the specific business and industry. When visiting farms or construction sites, opt for casual attire, but for meetings with senior officials, a more formal dress code is appropriate.
8. Parting Ways
At the end of the meeting, everyone customarily shakes hands and expresses their gratitude for the meeting. No one should be overlooked.
The Danish have a phrase: "Tak for i dag!" which translates to "Thanks for today's meeting!". When interacting in English, an appropriate phrase is: "Thank you for the meeting!".
First impressions carry immense weight, particularly when initiating business relationships in a novel cultural context like Denmark.
These guidelines aim to assist you in displaying due regard for Danish business culture, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for flourishing, productive business interactions. Always remember, sincerity and respect are paramount - these are universal values applicable everywhere, including in Denmark. If you adhere to these tips, you can rest assured that your first interaction with Danish business partners will be a success.
To visualize this, you might want to check out this website that provides a glimpse into the events at the Copenhagen Business House through images, giving you a vivid insight into the Danish business landscape: Erhvervshus Hovedstaden.