Tuesday, 13 October 2009

communication style

People say that its the little things that count. This seems to be a point lost on Finns who are so fu*king blunt it verges on rude ... well and actually they are often just rude too ...

One day in discussion with a Finnish friend he explained that being polite is just "wanking", its un-necessary and really does nothing to explain the message.

My experience is that many Finns seem to follow his philosophy. This is more pronounced in the countryside than Helsinki (where the population actually seem to be more like nice people, despite the issues you get in Cities vs Country towns)

Anyway, I was walking to the train the other day and found that this sign was put up to say "Work Area, no entry without authorisation" more or less...

What caught my eye was the face on the "icon" person shows a cranky unhappy face (which is so typical of Finns). You get the impression of "Hey, YOU! You can't come in here, bugger off"

I though for a moment that this is quite different to what I've experienced elsewhere in the world.

The problem I have with expressing what is distressing and annoying about living in Finland is that it isn't anything in particular, its the summation of everything in general.

Since I've made comparisons with Japan I thought I'd contrast this to the Japanese way of expressing the same thing...

construction sign (no enter)

construction sign (no entry)

Both signs are far less aggressive and still get the message across. But that's the point, Japanese are fundamentally a polite society. People try not to get in your face or annoy you. Not Finland ... the general attitude here is "I'm pissed off, so you should be too ... noone gives a shit how you feel so get used to it".

Back in Korea I asked a friend of mine who had had some dealings with Finns what he thought of the average Finnish person ... "grunting alcoholics" was his answer.

The longer I stay here the more I find that so many Finns really are just grumpy, rude semi-alcoholic, socially incompetent (to keep this polite).


  1. aw come on, we can't all be that bad, can we? Oh we do?

    just try to live in a fucken ice box with no lights on for all your life, you tunturisusi you :)

  2. There's also the fact that finnish people fear all people who look or act different from themselves. It also affects the courtesy thing, if you look like you are from somewhere else you are treated in a much worse manner than a Finn. Sad and true and I don't know the reason for that.

    In my experience the same mostly applies for Sweden and Norway too although both countries have more and more black people these days.

  3. Arto

    thanks for your comments.

    No, I do not mean that all are like that ... just many. It makes the nice Finns seem all the nicer :-)

    Xenophobia is common, and I feel its important to consider Finland as an isolated place relatively speaking (much like Japan or China). This effects how people react to foreigners as they see far fewer of them.

    Interestingly people from Nth America seem to consider all of Finland Sweden and Norway as being populated by overly self reflective morose semi alcoholic folks. (typed with a glass of brandy beside me)

    I guess I need to stress again my first page on this blog ... wish I could link it to the preface of all articles.