‘Dark Side of Hygge’ author: What internationals need to understand

New arrivals to the country “need to understand their own cultural norms and values as well as the Danish ones’, contends Dr Julia Jones

Following yesterday’s story about the report ‘The dark side of hygge: Acculturation of foreign workers in Denmark’, the author Dr Julia Jones, PhD, tells The Copenhagen Post that internationals “need to understand their own cultural norms and values, as well as the Danish ones”.

“This is important to be able to navigate everyday life without interpreting cultural misunderstandings as personal rejection. Avoiding feeling personally rejected is important to be able to understand that neither the Danish nor one’s own perspectives are inherently right or wrong, but simply different,” Jones told The Copenhagen Post.

The report serves as her final project towards completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Southern Denmark. 

Key conclusion
A key conclusion is that Danish culture needs to evolve for global talent to contribute significantly to the Danish economy.

Besides her studies Jones is a cross-cultural competency trainer and expat coach. She is the owner of the company International Talent where she helps Danish companies and organisations to relocate, integrate, and retain international employees,  

“The ‘us’ versus ‘them’ narrative is enticing because it is simple and satisfies our need to avoid ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty. Underneath the cultural rules we often obey unconsciously, we are all individuals with unique personalities, stories, dreams and wishes. If we cannot hold onto this truth, we can never forge meaningful connections and attain the sense of belonging we desire,” Jones said.

“Furthermore, as internationals, growing our self-awareness lets us build a new identity by deliberately deciding how much we want to adapt to Danish culture and how much we want to maintain our heritage, cultural norms and behaviour. We cannot make our thriving dependent on a whole country changing their ways, nor can we forsake our heritage. We can actively seek ways to meet our needs that are within our control.”

Essential for organisations
She urges internationals to become advocates for change in organisations and social circles. 

“By highlighting the challenges faced by foreigners in Denmark, their desire for connection, and the cultural factors that hinder such connections, we can contribute to creating a more inclusive environment,” Jones said.

And it is not a one-way street, of course, as there are plenty of things employers can do, according to Jones.

“I advocate that it is essential for Danish employers of foreign workers to take responsibility for educating both their Danish and international workforce about the intricate dynamics that arise in intercultural interactions,” she said. 

“By providing resources for cross-cultural competence, organisations can facilitate smoother and more effective collaboration among their employees, along with a lower staff turnover rate among their international employees.”