Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Finnish personality trait and Observation #1

I have tried to grasp why other nationalities consider Finns cold and fairly unapproachable. The main reason that it seems to come down to is that Finns don't talk much. Because they don't, one never knows what they are thinking. That's scary. When you feel them looking at you with those piercing blue eyes (but avoiding eye-contact at all costs), you feel that they know too much. You start over-thinking the reason for why there is no eye-contact. There is an unspoken air of intelligence about Finns and one may feel that they look down on you.

Finns only speak when they have something to say. Small-talk eventually becomes a second nature when you live in the UK for instance but it only takes one look at the Finnish translation for 'small-talk' to realise that it is not something common. An online dictionary gives: 'rupattelu', 'jutustelu', 'small talk'. How often does one hear the two first mentioned words in everyday life? Somehow they remind me of old ladies who start narrating their life story to you on the bus. No offense to old ladies, but I am sure I'm not the only one who considers situations like that uncomfortable. I wonder whether the Finns who end up staying in the same space with me for a while get the same feeling. I have probably learnt to talk 'too much' in the opinion of a Finn (I cannot be sure, because they would never express their opinion out loud unless possibly if they know you well).

The Finn observation of the day: When standing and waiting for the lights to change at a pedestrian crossing, Finns tend not to stand one next to another even if the crossing is wide. Instead, they will stand diagonally one behind the other so each of them still has a clear view of the crossing.


  1. I agree that the Finnish culture is quite unique, but I much prefer living in Finland with the scarcity of small talk as opposed to being in America with continual idle chatter. One must admire the integrity and high educational level that comes with the Finnish life.

  2. Interesting!
    I did a family DNA test and it turns out I am mostly Finnish, even though my family comes from Italy.
    I was wandering what the Finns are like.