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Codes of behaviour are fairly relaxed, and reputations – good or bad – are built up over time as the result of personal actions rather than conforming to norms or standards.
It is difficult in Finland to make or break a reputation with a single social blunder.
There is a high degree of equality between the sexes in Finland, as can be seen in the relatively high number of women holding advanced positions in politics and other areas of society.
There are numerous women in academic posts, and in recent years visiting businessmen have also found increasing numbers of ‘the fairer sex’ on the other side of the negotiating table.
Finland is a country where considerable weight is attached to the spoken word – words are chosen carefully and for the purpose of delivering a message.
Finns love reading things written about them abroad, and visitors should not feel uncomfortable being asked repeatedly what they think of Finland.
Finns place great value on words, which is reflected in the tendency to say little and avoid ‘unnecessary’ small talk.
As the Chinese proverb puts it, “Your speech should be better than silence, if it is not, be silent.” Finns have a very strong sense of national identity.
It is difficult to observe differences between believers and everyone else in everyday life, except perhaps that the former lead more abstemious lives.
The number of immigrants in Finland is growing, and increasing contacts with other religions in recent years have increased the Finns’ knowledge of them, although there is still much to be desired in their tolerance for people with different religions and cultures.