By Helina Ylisirnio (aka Hot Potatoe)
A blog about introverts – every Finnish readers dream! I mean, we are a nation of introverts! And proud of it!
The joke says it all: “How do you tell the difference between a Finnish introvert and a Finnish extrovert? The introvert looks at his own feet when he’s talking to you, the extrovert will look at yours.”
The American way of extravagant greetings (“It’s SO great to see YOU!”) and compliment-giving (“You look just FABULOUS!”) is just so not us.
A slight nod on the head and “Hi” (minus the exclamation mark, no use for that) is enough to convey the message. It’s good to see you too, no need to make such a fuss about it.
And the American “let’s have lunch”!? Even we Finns have learned by now that it does not actually mean there’s gonna be a lunch in the near future. Or the distant for that matter. Or ever.
So no need to be so.. loud. And joyful . And.. extrovert.
Another saying (or joke, take your pick) describes us even better. “Finns keep silent in two languages”. (Sounds better in Finnish).
Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, and we can keep quiet with both of them. No need to fill the silence with words. It’s quite all right for two (or more) people to just sit quietly without it feeling awkward.
Sure, in a meeting where things need to be discussed and decided keeping quiet is not necessarily the best option.
But that’s when we actually talk!
The way meetings are conducted here can sometimes seem rude to other nationalities. But hey, the meeting is about issue X – let’s define X and solve it. Why use the first 15 minutes to platitudes and sharing some personal memories/feelings or the last 15 minutes to politely conclude what was said and achieved and congratulate everyone for a job well done. Time is money, I am busy, I need to be somewhere else doing something else, so let’s get it over with efficiently!
But the real fun starts when Finnish introverts turn into extroverts! And that happens when they get drunk. And they do that a lot. (I say they since I don’t drink anymore. It’s too boring. And doesn’t taste good.)
In a blink of an eye a Finnish introvert turns to a glib extrovert – just like Raj turns from mute to a playboy in “Big Bang Theory” (hmm.. could Raj actually be Finnish??).“Finns keep silent in two languages” Click To Tweet
Instead of a silent, grumpy, one-syllable bear you get a loving, laughing (and even hugging!) globetrotter, who just won’t shut up. This lasts of course only until s/he has had too much to drink, after which you’re left again with a silent, grumpy, crying, miserable loser who no one loves.
So.. if you’re comfortable with introverts all around you, welcome to Finland. And if extroverts are more your cup of tea, just throw some vodka in the tea, serve it to the person next to you and hey, you got yourself a fun encounter (almost of the third kind..).
Helina Ylisirnio, aka Hot Potatoe is a web designer/translator/speechwriter/excellent advice giver at Hot Potatoe (and Sanamaakari (“Wordsmith”)). When she is not trying to be funny, thinking very deep thoughts or walking in the woods with her dogs she can be found writing groovy blog posts for http://www.hotpotatoe.net.