Have you seen a Finn who is speaking and laughing loudly in a crowd; making a show of oneself? Or is your image of a typical Finn a person who sits quietly in the corner observing the crowd? I am sure that these both types of people do exist but the latter one is what we usually think Finns are like. But why? This is a cultural matter. Whether the Finns want it or not they more or less think that it was just a while ago they still lived alone in a cabin surrounded by a thick pine forest. This image is scary but at the same time tells something essential about Finns. I give you some hints how to understand the minds of Finnish people:
It is okay to succeed. It is okay to make profit . It is okay to be rich. It is not okay to show it. It is not okay to brag about it. Old Finnish saying goes like this (freely translated): If one has a fortune, one should keep it hidden.
2 Asking for help
Finns are hard-working people. From the beginning of time many Finnish people have been working in agriculture, from early morning to late evening. Finns are used to earning their own living and they are proud of it. They want to do things themselves because they can. Only if they are forced, they ask for help.
Finland is full of innovations and people with new ideas. Finns could be brilliant in many areas of business if they just had the courage to put things forward. Entrepreneurship is highly valued by Finns but only too seldom people start their own business. As people say in Eastern Finland: we don’t dare. That means that they are afraid. There is a 50 percent possibility to fail. Yes, Finns are likely to think of failing. The big question might be: what if I don’t make it or what do people say? That is the reason why people often keep good ideas in their diaries or in their drawers.
4 Swedish people
Finns have many stereotypes for Swedish people. For example, Finns can think that Swedish people get things easier in life or the Swedes were born a golden spoon in their mouth (a Finnish saying). When Finns are competing against Swedes in athletics, it is very serious. Winning the Swedes is the only option. There is nothing more rewarding than winning Swedes in ice-hockey in World Championship games.
Were you able to identify some of the above mentioned features? If you did, you have started to understand Finns. You have a real possibility to succeed in social gatherings with Finns.
I think that Finns should be proud of what they are. All those limitations make Finns brilliant. These features make Finns a little strange but unique.
Text: Riina Kosonen, a student in Independent Study in English course