Welcome Onboard! – Silent language

Learn them off by heart! (photo: Poul Krogsgård)
August 22nd, 2020 4:58 pm| by Karey-Anne Duevang 
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Working with Danes and internationals extensively on a daily basis has given me great insight into how not understanding the local culture can have a detrimental effect on opportunities for international job-seekers. 

The silent language
Having recently spoken to a global audience on ‘How to Communicate’, it was a fantastic opportunity to share tips and tricks on how internationals can quickly learn the ‘unwritten rules’ in Denmark. 

The first and crucial point was to share how intercultural communication can affect the message. It’s often called the ‘silent language’,  as it can lead to a breakdown in communication because different cultures aren’t acknowledging and accommodating one another. It’s why I do what I do to help Danes and internationals communicate and understand each other. 

Having lived in Denmark for nearly 18 years, and worked for several Danish organisations, I have fallen in love with this small country and want to share how to communicate better with each other and perhaps more importantly how to be understood.  

Understand Janteloven 
Immigration is still relatively new to Denmark – and the Danes are still figuring out how to adequately welcome, accommodate and integrate internationals effectively. 

Aside from having the oldest monarchy in the world, the Danes are governed by a set of silent, unspoken rules or codes of conduct. A secret society exists and until you crack the code you will forever be on the outside.  

Janteloven are a set of rules that are old, but so ingrained in the way Danes live that not attempting to understand them can make it impossible to get along. Understanding that Denmark and its people are governed by Janteloven helps you to understand how and why Danes behave the way they do. 

Key to job-seeking
Take Janteloven and place it into an employment setting and the result is a flat hierarchy with no-one assuming rank, directors with an open door policy (or, more often than not, no door), and all staff, irrespective of title, on first name terms. 

Here, it is vital to communicate in a way that recruiters are familiar with and, in particular, when job-seeking, it is important to show the ability to work in a team. 

Understanding the culture and what is expected of you, and then communicating in a way that is appropriate and in tune with local customs, is not only advisable but necessary in order to be successful. 

Karey-Anne Duevang 


Formerly the CEO of a consulting firm, Karey-Anne is a partner of The Welcome Group. Over the past 20 years, she has worked extensively in strategic HR, overseeing change management projects, the training of employees and managers, and the recruitment of international specialists and executives.