Do’s and Don’ts of business etiquette in Denmark
Danish business manners are recurring theme in Kay Xander Mellish’s book Working with Americans: Tips for Danes.
Do value people’s time
Because the tax system takes so much of their income in order to finance the Danish welfare state, Danes value their time – and their freedom to use their time as they choose – more than they value money or prestige, Kay writes.
That’s why one of the worst breeches of Danish business manners is to arrive late to an appointment or meeting. A Danish 10am meeting really does start at 10:00, and you should be in your seat and prepared to deliver a contribution to the topic at hand.
Don’t be late
Arriving at 10:05 will get you some sour faces, and arriving at 10:15 means colleagues who are deeply annoyed.
Some internationals unconsciously arrive late to show how terribly important they are. “So sorry I’m late…the big boss wanted to talk to me.”
This is not a way to build good working relationships in Denmark. Being on time is a way of building trust with your Danish colleagues, and trust is an important part of business manners in Denmark.
Don’t cancel unless you are ill
It’s also important not to cancel a Danish business appointment (or social appointment) unless you are ill. If your Danish counterpart has set aside time for you, they have given you a bit of their most precious resource.
If you don’t show up or cancel at the last minute, they will be annoyed and a little insulted.