Introduction: Respect in Denmark

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Guide on how to show respect in Denmark

Step 1: Tolerance

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Copenhagen celebrates diversity and is one of the most tolerant, progressive cities in the world. Show respect by understanding different orientations, genders, religions and races exist and treat everyone equally; even light racist and discriminatory jokes are rude.

Step 2: Personal Space

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This is regarding both physical and metaphorical personal space. Danes do not enjoy being circled around or suffocated. Show respect by giving them space to think and act; leave that inevitable “How are you?” out.

Step 3: Power Distance

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Danish organisations have a very flat hierarchical structure, whether it is CEO to employee or professor to student. Show respect by being slightly more casual and outspoken when appropriate – refer to your professor by their first name, voice out more often even in low power positions, treat others as you would your friend, and do not look down upon others.

Step 4: Direct Communication

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Get to the point. There is good reason to why Denmark scores so highly on Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimension of individualism. There is low interdependence among members of Danish society and individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. There is little need to create relationships even when working with Danes, hence it is important to show respect by being straightforward and upfront.

Step 5: ​Humble

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Most Danish people are quite humble and expect others to as well. Flaunting cash or other successes and achievements is considered extremely rude, especially since materialistic values are not as important as personal qualities in Scandinavian countries. Show respect by acting humble.

Step 6: Biking Etiquette

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Biking is such an integral part of the Danish lifestyle and there is no better way to spot a rude person – or a tourist – than on the bike lane. Show respect by staying on the right side on the lane unless overtaking, biking at a moderate (read: insanely fast) pace, signalling before turning, getting off when on the pavement and having both legs on one side of the bike when crossing the road.

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