I was in Stockholm over the weekend, and I went to a bar to see some Olympic skiing. Whilst I was there, I overheard some American visitors talking about how rude they thought some of the Swedish people they have met were.
I sat there and listened intently focusing on why they thought that these people that they have met been so rude. After about half an hour I actually asked them because I had never encountered this and wanted them to let me know, as coming from a different country myself, I had not encountered the same.
What they actually said was that they had asked some Swedish people if their attempt at the Swedish language was any good. The reply was no not really, but it’s okay. I had to think back to when I first moved here, and I can understand why the American’s thought that the Swedish were being rude, however, it’s something that I’ve certainly learned that is not true. Swedish people’s honesty can sometimes be seen as abrupt and rude.
Swedish people are honest to the point of being blunt and I think that bluntness can sometimes come across to some as being rude. Certainly in the UK if someone come up and said “Excuse me how do you think my English is?” I would imagine that most of the majority of the English replies will be not bad but underneath hiding the fact that it isn’t so good but we just don’t want to appear to be offensive.
Of course, sometimes that can be the best approach but, for me, honesty is the much better approach because without being honest even if it’s negative criticism, we won’t ever be able to better ourselves.
Swedish people will say something is okay, very good or be bluntly honest and say it’s bad. In a country like the UK and the USA when society often favours a soft approach when criticising or giving opinions, it can be harsh to come to a country where brutal honesty is the norm.
In the time since I’ve moved here I think that I would rather have honest feedback on something I’m trying to do, such as learning a language, instead of someone just brushing it over to make me feel better. I suppose you can have the best and worst of both scenarios but overall I don’t want anyone to think that Swedish people are blunt and rude because they’re not.
They are just being honest.