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Nonverbal Communication in Finland


Man greeting Man - Men shake hands when greeting one another while maintaining direct eye contact.  A firm handshake is the norm. Good friends may hug when greeting, however, it is very rare for men to hug their guy friends.

Woman greeting Woman- At a first meeting, women generally shake hands while maintaining direct eye contact. Good friends may hug. 
Man greeting Woman- At a first meeting a regular handshake will do. Good friends may hug.
Note: There is generally no kissing when greeting others, although some Finns who have lived abroad enjoy returning with this chic "kissing culture.”  Most often when greeting friends, a simply "hi” will suffice.

Personal Space & Touching

Personal space is respected. Keeping at least an arm length of space (generally more) between people is expected and they will usually feel uncomfortable or suspicious if others are too close.  Public displays of affection are generally to be avoided. 

Touching is not very common during conversations.

Finnish people may look at your strangely if you touch them on the shoulder or arm during a discussion.

Eye Contact

Eye contact is very important; it is a sign of honesty and integrity.

Finnish society encourages equality, discouraging division between socio-economic classes; hence it is rude to not look others in the eye, regardless of age, social class or professional standing. 


Thumbs up means "way to go,” "yes” or "good work.”

Flipping the middle finger is pretty universal in its meaning although some Finns prefer using both middle fingers to emphasis their point.

A simply shrug can show indifference or uncertainty.

Toss your head to say come here.

Crossing your arms is arrogant.

When yawning, always remember to cover your mouth.



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