Why Are Scandinavians Introverted?


Scandinavians are known for many things, including their intelligence, independence, and low levels of corruption.

However, they are also considered introverted compared to people from other nations.

Scandinavians seem introverted because small talk isn’t common in their culture. They’re also taught that being overly loud is rude and that being quiet is more polite and acceptable.

Scandinavians don’t view silence as awkward; they usually prefer silence over meaningless small talk.

Scandinavians are generally happy but quiet people. This article will discuss why they appear to be so introverted and reserved.

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Drink So Much Coffee? to learn more.

Why Most Scandinavians Come Across As Introverted

Although Scandinavians are generally viewed positively across Europe, some people find them unfriendly due to their quiet nature.

Below are some of the main reasons they come across as introverted.

They Don’t Do Small Talk

Small talk is a regular and polite social interaction in many countries across Europe and the rest of the world, but Scandinavians aren’t too fond of it.

In Sweden, for example, small talk has a couple of different names, neither of which is positive. Swedes refer to the practice as:

  • D√∂dprat: which translates to dead talk, or
  • Kallprat: which translates to cold talk [1]

Rather than speaking about anything that comes to mind to get a conversation going (like the weather), Scandinavians prefer to only speak when there is something worth saying.

Small talk generally doesn’t add anything to a conversation in the eyes of a Scandinavian, so they’d prefer to remain silent.

This behavior can seem rude or odd to an outsider, but it’s a normal part of Scandinavian culture and norms.

It may take some time for an extroverted immigrant who enjoys small talk to settle in a Scandinavian country because not many locals are pleased when confronted with small talk.

Being Overly Loud Is Considered Rude and Obnoxious

Small talk is one thing that Scandinavians aren’t fond of, but being loud and obnoxious is even worse in their eyes.

When tourists visit busy Scandinavian cities, they’ll likely notice the streets are quieter than those in other bustling cities worldwide.

Scandinavians who are out and about are more likely to keep to themselves and avoid talking to strangers.

Therefore, the streets tend to be quieter while people mind their business.

If a Scandinavian witnesses someone being overly loud (for example, talking loudly on the phone on public transport), they will likely be unimpressed. [2]

It’s normal for conversations to be kept at low volumes in public, so tourists should always be aware of their speaking volume.

Are Scandinavians Ever Loud in Public?

Scandinavians are rarely loud in public, but when they are, it’s usually because they’re drinking alcohol and partying.

Many Scandinavians like to drink alcohol and get drunk, especially on the weekends. Tourists are more likely to see the loud and extroverted side of Scandinavians when they’re out partying at night.

Silence Is Not Considered Awkward in Scandinavian Countries

The term “awkward silence” is prevalent across much of the Western world, particularly North America.

Many people outside Scandinavian countries try to avoid these “awkward” silences by talking about anything and everything, but Scandinavians don’t usually like this.

Instead, they don’t mind remaining silent and speaking only when they’ve had time to think of something insightful or interesting to say. [3]

It’s common for a group of Scandinavians to remain silent for long periods if there is nothing more to say.

Although a tourist might consider a pause in conversation as awkward when speaking with a Scandinavian, the Scandinavian is unlikely to feel uncomfortable.

Being Quiet and Reserved Is More Socially Accepted 

In other countries, being alone is sometimes considered sad or depressing, but it’s more typical in Scandinavian countries. 

Being alone can mean different things, including:

  • Going to the park alone
  • Having a stroll around the city alone
  • Sitting alone on a bench
  • Living alone

Although Scandinavians like to have friendships and do things with their friends and families, they enjoy doing things alone and are comfortable being entirely independent.

The concept of living alone is normal to most Scandinavians, especially Swedes. 

People from other nations worldwide might consider living alone isolating, but Scandinavians often find solace and joy in living alone and having total freedom.

They don’t feel sad or lonely because they’re generally taught to be self-sufficient and not rely on anyone else as a primary source of fulfillment.

They’re Less Likely To Ask Strangers for Help

If a Scandinavian needs help with directions, they will do anything to solve their problem themselves before asking a stranger for help.

One of the main reasons Scandinavians are so reserved and perceived as introverted is that they respect other people and don’t want to cause disturbances.

Asking a stranger for help could be seen as an annoyance or disturbance, so Scandinavians will try to solve their own problems before burdening someone else.

It’s also generally not normal to start a conversation with a stranger (even if it’s to ask for help), so they will avoid doing so unless there is no other choice.

These behaviors can make Scandinavians come across as introverted to outsiders.

They Take Longer To Develop Close Friendships

It’s no secret that Scandinavians take friendship very seriously, so they are unlikely to develop friendships with lots of people in a short period.

Instead, they take a while to open up to each other and create bonds with others over long periods. [4]

The Scandinavian way of making friends can be difficult for immigrants to adjust to, making it harder for them to break the ice and make friends. It can also create the image of an unfriendly, stand-offish society, which isn’t the case.

Instead of being outwardly friendly with strangers and acquaintances right off the bat, Scandinavians tend to hold their cards close to their chests until they fully trust the other person.

Scandinavians’ long and careful way of making friends is why they’re often perceived as introverted to outsiders, especially outsiders from countries where it’s normal to call everyone they know a friend.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source

Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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