Norway: Conversation



General Guidelines

Do not ask personal questions or be offended if Norwegians do not inquire about your family, work, and so forth.

Try to avoid opening a conversation with “So, what do you do?” This is considered far too personal a question in Norway, and one’s job is often not the most interesting topic of conversation.

Avoid superficiality in conversation.

Norwegians prefer that people do not raise their voices when discussing something.

Norwegians accept silence with ease, so it would be a mistake hurriedly to fill in pauses in the conversation.

Scandinavians appreciate it if you can demonstrate a knowledge of the differences between the people of Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark .

Norwegians have a profound appreciation of nature / the environment. They make great efforts to protect their countryside, coastlines, upland areas, etc. and at the same time value their right of access to and enjoyment of ‘natur’.

When introducing ourselves, we stand and give a simple, firm handshake and we appreciate the same from our visitors.

It’s not normal to exchange gifts in ordinary meetings.

Famous Norwegians include : Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jan Egeland , Arve Tellefsen, Thor Heyerdal, Ibsen, Amundsen.

Norway also has a rich fund of Folk Music, an inspiration in part to composers such as Grieg.

The Nobel Prize is another aspect of Norwegian culture.

There are few things Norwegians are openly offended by, as they regard themselves as worldly-wise. However, they do not appreciate loud or uncouth behaviour in any context.

Welcome Topics of Conversation

Travel, exchanging stories about experiences in other countries or first-hand information about other countries are welcome topics of conversation.

Norwegian culture

The fine arts

Norwegian history

Current events

Politics [if you know what you’re talking about!]

Vacation / holiday destinations.

Sports [football, biathlon, cross-country skiing, rally driving]


The outdoors

Nature / the environment

Showing a knowledge of things Norwegian, especially aspects that distinguish Norwegians from other Scandinavian peoples.

Topics to Avoid

Criticism of the Norwegian government

Criticising Norwegian culture

The family

How much you earn or comparisons with pay scales in other countries

Paying compliments to people you have just met

Any crime in Norway that has made world headlines

Anything to do with one’s personal background

Anything associated with rank, status and showiness

Comparison of social welfare / health systems

Complaints about the high cost of living in Scandinavia

Criticism of the Norwegian sense of humour