When Rude Isn’t Rude: Norway Scores Third Person Shutout

shutout (US) is a game in which one team prevents the other from scoring any points.

I teach a course called ‘Living in Norway’ for people new to the country. Its main aim is that by the time they walk out the door at the end of the evening, these newcomers will:

‘…understand Norwegian culture, behavior and habits.’

Having this point in mind, I move quickly into a list of my listeners should do and not do in order to achieve this understanding.

A piece of well-meant advice

Here’s an example:

Do: Discover and develop your inner extrovert

Don’t: Wait (ever, ever, ever)

For example: 1) to be introduced by someone to someone they know but you don’t know

Why this advice? Because in this country – and yes, so many natives here are otherwise and quite simply the nicest people in the world – it’s not considered rude to not introduce someone you’re talking with when a third party – who knows you but doesn’t know the person you’re talking with – enters the conversational scene.

That’s the best description I can give of it – correct me if I’m wrong, readers.

A lunchtime encounter

Now an example taken from real life, as in mine:

Just two weeks ago I was at lunch in our staff canteen with a group of four people I often join; there were two of on each side of the table. A man – unknown to me – came along and joined our group, sitting down in the empty chair directly across from me.

He obviously knew the man sitting to my right, as he immediately engaged my next door neighbor in a lively conversation about their respective boats and cabins. Without glancing my way – nor did the other make any effort to introduce the two of us.

This shutout didn’t just go on for a couple of minutes – more like closer to fifteen, as I silently finished the food on my plate while learning something new about boats and cabins.

They paused for breath. I dove in, hand out and smile at the ready: ‘Hi, I’m Karin…’

Soon afterwards, I got to my feet, picked up my tray and gave a quick nod to everyone at the table before moving off, including my new acquaintance.

Lesson learned

Contrary to what you might be thinking, I wasn’t feeling disrespected – and I’m not now.

Nor should you – ever, ever, ever.

Just know that, depending on where you were raised, what you might call a ‘manners gap’ is the norm here.

So this time around I started out as a shutout victim; couldn’t score any points in the conversation – until I myself took the initiative to force open the door and – victim no longer – get those points on my own.

And I’ll do it again and again in the future – adaptation of the fittest?

It’s often hard being new and having to not just learn but accept this point: how do you deal with a situation when rude isn’t rude?

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