Nicholas Lund, one of the geniuses behind Mondå (monda.no) and the humoristic book "The Social Guidebook to Norway" was our guest in September. He talked about the book, typical Norwegian behaviour and how to best learn to socialize, communicate and connect with Norwegians.
Below you can find a short interview with him.
1. The Social Guidebook to Norway - describe it in one word.
2. What you wanted to achieve by publishing this book?
When I first lied about knowing how to draw, I really didn't know it would end up as a bestseller. But I think it was some kind of urge to show that everything is possible, as long as you work hard and are able to receive constructive feedback on how to improve. And of course: It always help having a rocket scientist author who knows how to make value out of simple things.
3. What's so special in Norwegian behaviuor, that separates them from the rest of the Scandinavians and the rest of the world?
According to Janteloven: Nothing. But again, I much prefer the concept of equality, and how it helps develop the society as a whole. But it's not merely about the mindset of the people, but the system provided by the government. If there isn't a system for "forced equality", it's impossible to maintain - which I think Scandinavia has managed to succeed well with.
4. What are “the forbidden topics” when you are talking with someone, who comes from Norway?
Never say: "I thought you were from Sweden".
5. Do you think that foreigners have the prejudices about Norwegians? Does the book can be useful in overcoming prejudices, if they exist?
I had dinner with a Serbian man in Beograd. He told me to serve food to the people around before serving myself. This was new for me. In Norway, we always serve ourselves. We are a very individualistic country, and we don't expect people to do anything for us - such as serving food to others. This is one example of how we might be interpreted as impolite, and I think this is very important to keep in mind when going to Norway. If the book helps? Of course! It's the only book describing the topic!
6. What is for you the strangest thing in behavior of Norwegian person? And the funny one? If you can would you change something?
I was walking into a shop the other day. I saw people coming out, so I opened the door and held it open for them. Of the four people who went out, not a single person even looked at me or said "Thank you". This is not them being impolite. They just don't have clue what to do or say when someone is holding the door for them, because it is so unusual. And this I find very cute and funny. When something "different" happens, Norwegians get confused and don't know what to do, so they look down and run away, as if they were a cute animal encountering a human being in the forrest.
7. During your short stay in Serbia have you noticed a pattern in a social behavior?
Intimacy. It was fun to experience how close people were sitting while talking to each other, but at the same time always saying "Sorry" when bumping into the person walking next to you on the street. I picked this up very quick and made a small "study" where I , on purpose, bumped into every person that was walking next to me. They all said "Sorry".