Call me by my (first) name!

Imagine meeting Donald Trump and greeting him with a simple “Hi, Donald”!  That would be unspeakable in the US. In the Nordics though, that would be totally accepted and all social greetings include a friendly plain “Hi, [first name]” even if it is your boss, the Prime Minister or the Queen! In a place where all politeness expressions like “please” are not widely used,  everybody is considered equal, despite the authority positions he/she possesses. Is this due to a lack of respect? Or is this just a cultural thing, written in the people’s DNA?
Don’t get them wrong!
People in the Nordic countries rarely say “please” or use very polite expressions to ask for something. The Danes, for example, would simply say “move a little bit to the right, so I can pass through” or “give me the newspaper”. This is often perceived by foreigners as impolite or rude. They are just straightforward and super effective in their communication, just like their culture: to achieve any goal by using the least resources possible.When it comes to greetings all are equal and no matter the age difference, you can use singular to greet or talk to: your parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, professors, neighbours (you know well or not), bosses, people in positions of power (like presidents or leaders of clubs or companies), the Prime Minister… all the way to the Royals maybe! You can even get misunderstood if you use (very) formal language as this indicates that you do not accept the principle of equality.

Find me in the phone book!

Equality comes hand in hand with transparency and accessibility. Since everybody is equal, then everybody must be easily accessed to get in touch, regardless of his/her social status or position in the hierarchy. This is why the phone number of the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands is listed in the national phone book. You can just call him! This is also why the members of Government or even the Royal families in the Nordics often blend with ordinary people in casual occasions like celebrations or running events. No big deal, they just drop by to say hi and chat with people.

The love of the Nordic people for casual greetings is such that the Icelanders are listed and ranked in the national phone book by their first name first, then their surname and other details. These include profession as well. How could you distinguish between the hundreds of men called Jón Olafsson in the country with no further details, after all?