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Opinion

Consensus saves the day

This week, Finnfacts trainee Tuomas Koivisto tells why we should try to step into each other’s shoes more often.

In this rapidly internationalising world, the globe as a whole is quickly diversifying. When misinterpretations are more common in daily interactions, it important to agree that not all misconceptions should be devoid of humour.

I have had the privilege to observe many examples of such whilst at Finnfacts. When hosting tours for international media, I have experienced situations where the Finn within marvels internally, “You are eating this berry soup wrong; it is supposed to be spooned up” or “The ground is really not that slippery; it’s flat and barely icy.”

Being in constant interaction with manifold people, this job has revealed to me that as I am born and raised in Finland, I have this strong unquestioned mind-set considering how things should be done – that is, until someone gives me a reason to question the undisputed.

This has led to some hilarious, yet educational moments.

Obviously, other people have their own unquestioned mind-sets themselves. When a journalist asks me, “Why are the Christmas lights still on in mid-January?”, for me, as a native Finn, this sounds just random. Nevertheless, I provide an answer like: “Because winter is long and dark in Finland. Lights not only bring joy and warmth to the street scene, the lighting increases safety and makes city centres become more appealing from the beginning of November until spring.”

The point being here is how a reciprocal seal of approval could be achieved. For me, whilst the question may seem strange, I accept that it may not be standard knowledge everywhere. On the other side of the fence, the journalist starts to see the reason behind my answer that initially sounded odd and curious.

For some journalists, our media tours are their first trips to Finland, and therefore I am often their very first Finnish contact. Consequently, I am constantly answering these kind of questions. Moreover, it is even more amusing to reach a mutual understanding after questions such as: “Why do those people wear hats inside the sauna?” and “Is that housekeeper-looking person really the minister?”

As the demand for empathy is higher these days than ever before, all of us should ease up a bit and try to step into each other’s shoes more often to make life more stress-free for everyone. Haste makes waste.

Published on 30.03.2017