You should prepare thoroughly for your first business meeting in Denmark, as all parties are keen to achieve a tangible result. Be friendly, attentive and authentic. This is the kind of behaviour that Danes like best!
The question of what to wear at a business meeting in Denmark is easily answered. If the meeting takes place in an official setting, women will wear business attire and men will put on a suit, shirt and tie. If the weather is summery, you can hang your jacket casually over the chair and roll up your shirt sleeves.
The magic word for informal meetings, which are common in Denmark, is “business casual”. Don’t mistake this to be too casual though, the Danish “business casual” style is informal yet stylish.
It is alright to be fashionably late to official business meetings in Denmark—for some. As a guest, you must never be late! By being punctual you are also proving that you are reliable. In Denmark, the reliability of business partners is extremely important.
If you are not yet acquainted, a handshake with direct eye contact is the customary greeting. If you are meeting for the second or third time, a short, informal greeting is sufficient.
Introduction and address
Introduce yourself to your Danish business partners only with your first name, as you will be on familiar terms right from the start. The “formal you” – addressing someone with his or her last name – is largely no longer used in Denmark. But please remember: the use of the first name, the “informal you”, has nothing to do with a lack of respect for one another. In Denmark, treating people with respect has nothing to do with the form of address.
As Danes are masters of understatement, you should not make a big deal about your responsibilities in your company. In Denmark, hierarchies are flat and being modest is part of showing good manners.
Danes do their best to ensure equality. It is alright to enjoy having more or being higher up the ladder than others, but it goes against the Danish way to put yourself above others.
The same principle also applies to business cards. Cards are exchanged without much fuss, the main purpose of exchanging cards is to provide all the necessary contact information.
Listing a large number of academic titles is rather amusing to the Danes. It is only important for your business partners from the far north, if at all, to know your professional title. Are you a project or department manager? That’s all Danes need to know to place you.
Danes are not masters at small talk. Exchange just a few sentences on everyday topics such as the weather or where you come from. ” How was your arrival?” is something that people might be curious about.
Your Danish business partners will not ask you anything too personal and you should not do so either.
Danes gently move from relaxed chatting to the business part of the meeting. The discussion atmosphere is calm, formal and reserved. Things are addressed directly and a goal-oriented approach is taken.
If several experts have been invited to this first business meeting, you can expect a very open exchange of views. Such an exchange may appear to be somewhat overdone. However, in keeping with their democratic spirit, it is immensely important to Danes that everyone is able to have their say and contribute.
It is also important to Danes that everyone feels comfortable. This is what the term “hygge” stands for. Translated very freely, this means “being comfortable”. Do you think this doesn’t really apply to the business world? It certainly does, as you will soon find out in the Danish conference room. This isn’t about lounging around, but rather about the feeling of “Here I am in the right place, here is where I do business”.
Don’t let this casual attitude fool you. It does not mean that any deals with your Danish business partners are already in the bag!
By the end of the day, you will know what your next steps will be. Although the decision-making process may seem lengthy because there are many discussions, arguments and considerations on the way, the goal of these talks is to reach a result.
This also means that you can rely on what your Danish business partners have to say. If they assure you that they will contact you next week about how to proceed, they will do so.
Should there be no finalization of the deal after the first meeting, do not press for a result, instead be patient and don’t worry. There will definitely be a follow-up appointment.
Once everything has been settled, you will either be invited for a coffee or a meal in the canteen. However, you may also just be asked if a taxi can be called for you. There’s no need to worry; this doesn’t mean that the meeting was unsuccessful.