Living with Vikings

The cold North is now hot. Nordic countries and companies attract new citizens like never before, and in the small Nordic countries we now have new neighbors and colleagues who were not brought up on the local values and are therefore not familiar with the welfare states’ written and especially unwritten rules.

 Living with Vikings is a new book by Kirsten Weiss that addresses the meeting between the Nordic countries and the many well-educated, well-travelled globalists who, for a time or for good, choose to settle here. The newcomers struggle not only with the language but also with Nordic values and ways of living, working, and cooperating. We hear about the astonishment of seeing empty offices at 5 p.m., how surprisingly efficient we are, and the difficulties of decoding the flat organization and understanding the significance of consensus.

Kirsten Weiss examines the countries one by one in order to reach an understanding of the characteristics that make Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden so distinctive. Weiss focuses on humor, happiness, and trust and touches on the law of Jante and our views on children and divorce in this introduction to Nordic values, habits, and self-perception. All of which is mirrored in how we live, how we work, and how we, sometimes, get our lines crossed.

Living with Vikings is aimed at new citizens as well as Scandinavians who wish to see themselves through the eyes of others. Through interviews we are given a unique insight into how the Nordic tendency to make plenum decisions, give very direct critique, and employ equality in even the smallest of assignments can be a tall order for people from other cultures. Like when a French CEO finds out he is swimming against the tide of opinion when he, with French logic and organizational understanding, argues that it is silly for him, the employee with the highest salary, to be in charge of buying his own tickets – only to be told by one of his Swedish coworkers that in the North, we are all equal.

About the author

Kirsten Weiss is a Danish journalist, lecturer, and author, and has previously written the book Når vikinger slås – Hvorfor skandinaviske virksomheder har det så svært med hinanden [When Vikings clash – why Scandinavian companies have a tough time with each other]. She gives advice on cultural understanding, foreign postings, and work-life, with a particular focus on the North. Read more at kirstenweiss.dk.

About the book

Living with Vikings – How to Live and Work in the Nordic Countries by Kirsten Weiss is simultaneously released in Danish: Norden for nybegyndere – Om at leve og arbejde i de nordiske lande. The book is published by Gyldendal Business on 13 September 2017 and costs 299.95 DKK, at GyldendalBusiness.dk or Amazon.com

Talks & Counselling

Book lecture, please write kw@kirstenweiss.dk or call +45 2636 0753

How can you become culturally more aware?

Do you have 500 recently merged employees who need to know each other better?
As a management team, would you like your strategy and collaboration to roll out more smoothly across national borders?
Or do you just need to focus more closely on how to handle cultural differences in everyday life?

I optimise efficiency in mergers, collaborations and negotiations.  In the Nordic region, where we share many values – and cross swords about them. And outside the familiar landscape, where a wise manager takes careful steps to avoid treading on toes and colleagues’ values.

All the services I provide include generous helpings of expert knowledge, research, experience from other companies and Nordic humour.

Depending on your needs, I can offer, for example:

When vikings – and values – clash

Lectures and workshops for companies and organisations working across national borders – that also want to cooperate. For 10 to 1000 participants. And customised to suit your everyday reality.

Why are Scandinavians so strange?

  • Why do your Nordic colleagues expect you to have an opinion on most subjects?
  • How can you collaborate closely and trust people you only know professionally?
  • Why is it OK to eat your lunch at the same canteen table as your boss?
  • Why can’t you jump the queue?
  • Why is attending the Christmas party part of your job description?

Courses and workshops for employees and managers who were not raised in the Nordic region but will be working with us here. And a dedicated attempt to explain why, from a foreigner’s perspective, those of us living in the Nordic region behave so strangely compared with the rest of the world.

This course on living and collaborating with colleagues from the Nordic countries will introduce you to: everyday life and professional life in the Nordic region, dos & don’ts, the history of the Nordic region, the welfare state, values and habits.

Get a grip on the culture – and the management team

Presentations, advice and collaboration with multicultural management teams. Primary focus on decision-making processes, meeting structures and management mandates.

I am going to …

How does a wise Nordic leader deal with management in cultures with steep hierarchies, an aversion to teamwork and managers on first name terms?

How do you practise management in China, Cologne or Chicago – without losing your authority, your identity, your core values or the Nordic values you grew up with?

If you need expertise outside my own area, I collaborate closely with occupational psychologists and experts within communication and management.