Eye Contact in Norway & Cultural Differences


Norwegians will look each other in the eye a lot when talking with colleagues at work or with friends. Looking others in the eye when talking with them is a mark of respect in Scandinavia and is expected, even when you disagree.

Cultures around the world have different eye-contact rituals. In certain cultures, you will avoid eye contact with people of the opposite gender. In other cultures you will avoid eye-contact with people in positions of authority - your boss for example - or people of higher social status. You also do this as a mark of respect.

In Norway, everyone is more or less equal, and you should maintain eye contact in discussions. If you look down or away, Norwegians might think that you are uninterested, that you do not care or that you are annoyed.




Norwegians sometimes avoid eye contact, but for different reasons - for example, when they meet strangers. Social norms in many cultures tell us to look at people when entering a restaurant or an event, or when one wants to exit from public transport. This is not as common in Norway. Norwegians will refrain from looking strangers in the eye. They do not want to disturb. They will silently come to the bus stop, avoid eye contact with the other people standing there and hope no one has noticed they have arrived.
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Learn more about Norwegians and cultural differences with Julien S. Bourrelle

 

You can also read more about our amazing Norwegian friends in Our Social Guidebooks to Norway