Why are Norwegians always surprised?

13 Jul 2017 | By Camilla G. Moen

Working at an international company means there’s always one or more Cxense employees travelling the world: selling, implementing, collecting input, developing code, and having a bit of fun while they’re doing it.

When I was most recently in our Japan office we randomly cleared up some confusion that’s been lingering for the last seven years. The team asked why visitors from Norway always seem so surprised by the smallest things – gasping of surprise whenever they are offered a coffee or asked how is your day going?

I told them a story about how my Greek and Brazilian roommates at university in the US asked if my Norwegian mother had asthma after she visited as she often gasped for air. To which I said that when the Norwegians make a surprise gasp sound – jaaah – then it is actually just an informal way of saying yes. And I literally saw a puzzle piece fall into place on the faces of my Japanese coworkers. No surprise – just a misunderstanding.

Here's a short video (not produced by Cxense) explaining the phenomenon:

This is just one example of the curiosities you encounter when you work in a globally distributed, international company. You've got to love these misunderstandings though – and never be afraid to ask, I promise not to be surprised.