Watch out for the Norwegian Arm!

Norwegians will often try to avoid unnecessary verbal communication

And only ask for help if they really need to

They like to be independent

Not to owe others

Not to disturb others

They are polite in their Norwegian way

And this may create surprising situations for people not used to this type of politeness

The " Norwegian Arm" is a good example

The Norwegian arm is an arm that stretches in front of you at dinner to grab something on the other side of the table

For Norwegians, asking someone to pass the butter is more disturbing than grabbing it directly across the table

The pragmatic and efficient Norwegian way of being polite may be surprising for those coming from cultures where politeness norms are more focused on communication

For Norwegians, it is much simpler, polite and pragmatic to reach out to what they want across the table than disturbing the one sitting next to them by asking to pass them something

In that way they make sure not to interrupt a conversation and create awkwardness

I like to say that politeness in Norway is about not disturbing others.

Read more about our amazing Norwegian friends in Our Social Guidebooks to Norway 


By Julien S. Bourrelle

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