Different communication styles: US business culture vs Danish business culture
In Kay’s companion volume, Working with Americans: Tips for Danes she points out that Danes and Americans have very different communication styles, and that this can cause misunderstandings between colleagues, or between customers and suppliers.
Raised on a steady diet of praise and encouragement, Americans expect a lot more positive feedback than Danes do. Avoiding negativity is important, and one of the worst things you can be in an American cultural context is a “negative person.”
If criticism cannot be avoided, Americans generally expect it to be delivered using the “sandwich method.”
First, the person delivering the criticism must start with a soft piece of bread, explaining that he knows his target is doing his very best. Then comes the meat of the matter – what is unsatisfactory? Finally, the conversation is finished with yet another piece of soft bread, suggesting positive hopes for the future.
Danes are more direct
Since they hate to waste time, Danes tend to be more direct. They’ll go straight to the heart of what the problem is, with very little padding.
To Americans, this can come off as harsh or even rude. It’s made even trickier by the fact that Danes don’t do a lot of positive reinforcement, which is seen as unnecessary.
Why should adult professionals be praised for doing their jobs? thinks the Dane.