What Are the Finns Like?
Finnish people are warm, open and sincere, even though they might tell you the exact opposite.
If you’ve ever met a Finn, chances are they’ve mentioned the reserved nature of their countrymen. Be not afraid – we’re not taciturn brutes.
Finns are talkative and hospitable, but the myth of the withdrawn Finn is still alive and well inside Finland. And Finns, with their self-deprecating wit, will be the first to let foreigners in on it.
An example of a Finnish joke: “An introverted Finn looks at his shoes when talking to you; an extroverted Finn looks at your shoes”.
Reserved? Not at all!
Chris Wlach, a New Yorker who’s been to Finland twice, has a first-hand account:
- I heard from my Finnish teacher and friends that there was this idea of Finnish people being reserved, which was funny, because it wasn’t at all my experience, he says.
Why would we do that? Why would we put ourselves down when there’s no need for it?
Silence is communication
The rather peculiar communication code might have something to do with it. Finns are not big small talkers, and quiet moments in conversations are not considered awkward.
Silence merely means the person doesn’t have anything essential to say. There’s no necessity to fill gaps in conversation with chatter.
On the other hand, Finns are genuine – we mean what we say. “Let’s have a beer sometime” actually means you will be contacting the other person sooner or later for a drink, and they will be expecting it.
Come on in!
Finns are most relaxed in their home, and getting invited to someone’s house is not unusual. This is where Finnish hospitality comes out best.
Alison Daly, a Brit with Finnish friends, says:
- I was told Finnish people would be cold, but especially when you go as the guest of a friend, you don’t have a wall between you and them. Everyone made me feel welcome.