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In the Media

Kay Xander Mellish appears frequently on TV and radio and in Danish newspapers and magazines. She also publishes her own videos to social media.

If you’d like to book Kay for a media appearance, please use this site’s Contact Kay form.

In the Media

BBC.com: How to Live in Denmark and “the single word that connects Denmark”

How to Live in Denmark makes an appearance in the BBC.com story “The Single Word that Connects Denmark.”

According to writer Karen Gardiner, the single word that connects Denmark is samfundssind, or putting the interests of society above one’s own interests.

She quotes Kay Xander Mellish about the ways in which samfundssind is created and encouraged in Denmark.

Heavily subsidised through taxes, Danish daycare centres foster social mindedness early in life. “Almost everyone goes to public daycare in Denmark,” said Kay Xander Mellish, author of the books How to Live in Denmark and How to Work in Denmark.

“Even Prince Christian, the future King Christian XI, attended public daycare.” Every child born in Denmark is guaranteed a place in daycare from six months to six years of age where the emphasis is on playing and socialising – formal education doesn’t begin until age eight or nine.

“In the first few years,” said Mellish, “children learn the basic rules for functioning as a society. They learn how to sit at a table at lunch time, wait until it is their turn to be served, and feed themselves. In the playground, they spend most of their time in “free play”, in which they make up rules for their own games.”

Staff generally don’t lead play, she explained, which “allows the children to form their own groups and learn how to work together on their own.”

Often, Mellish added, schools start the day by singing a song together from the popular Højskolesangbogen, (the Folk High School Songbook), a cultural tradition that extends to universities, offices and, on Wednesday mornings, Copenhagen Main Library.

You can read the complete article here.

In the Media

Amerikansk foredragsholder Kay Xander Mellish

Amerikansk foredragsholder Kay Xander Mellish leverer informerende og underholdende præsentationer om kulturelle forskelle og dansk arbejdskultur – samt hjælper danskere og udlændinge til at le, lære, omgå og forstå hinanden bedre.

Firmaeventsene How To Live in Denmark om dansk kultur er designet til at hjælpe internationale medarbejdere, deres og studerende med at føles sig bedre tilpas i Danmark og til at forstå den danske mentalitet bedre. Danskerne går som regel derfra med en større forståelse af både dem selv og deres udenlandske kolleger. Vores arrangementer er både underholdende og lærerige!

Kontakt os for at planlægge dit næste event.

Kay Xander Mellish har boet i Danmark i over 10 år. Hun har et konsulentfirma, der hjælper danske virksomheder med at kommunikere på engelsk. Hendes oplæg om dansk arbejdskultur, at finde sin plads i det danske samfund som nylig tilflytter, og de ”dangliske” ord, som sniger sig ind, når danskerne taler og skriver på engelsk er yderst populære.

Kay er desuden forfatter til bøgerne “How to Live in Denmark” (2014), “Top 35 Mistakes Danes Make in English” (2016), “How to Work in Denmark” (2018), “Working with Americans: Tips for Danes” (2019) og “Working with Danes: Tips for Americans” (2020.)

Amerikansk foredragsholder

“Jeg rejser rundt i hele landet og holder foredrag om en række forskellige emner,” siger Kay. “Jeg hjælper danskere og amerikanere med at få et bedre samarbejde ved at undgå kulturelle misforståelser. Jeg hjælper også med at introducere nyankomne til den danske kultur. Der findes mange uskrevne regler i den danske kultur. Danskerne kender til dem, men det gør udefrakommende ikke.”

“Derfor henvender jeg mig også til et dansk publikum og hjælper dem med at formulere deres forventninger og med at undersøge ting, de altid har taget for givet. Jeg besøger også skoler og fortæller om amerikansk kultur og om hvordan, det engelske sprog er under forandring. Jeg har skrevet adskillige bøger om dansk kultur og er også stemmen bag podcasten How to Live in Denmark, som har eksisteret siden 2013.”

“Hvis du vil vide mere om dansk kultur, kan du altid booke mig til at lave en præsentation for dit team eller din organisation – endda også virtuelt.”

Læs mere om Kay Xander Mellishs events.

Flip Book Working with Americans Working with Danes

Buy Kay Xander Mellish’s new book, Working with Danes: Tips for Americans/Working with Americans: Tips for Danes on our webshop, or at Amazon, Saxo, Google Books, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, or via our webshop.

Or follow Kay on LinkedIn.

Read in English: Kay Xander Mellish, American keynote speaker Denmark.

Denmark and the USA, In the Media

Kongressen.com: Forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA

Forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA var på agendaen når Kay Xander Mellish når blev interviewet af Kongressen.com.

Kay Xander Mellish, amerikansk forfatter og business coach, som har boet over ti år i Danmark og er aktuel med bogen “Working with Americans: Tips for Danes” and “Working with Danes: Tips for Americans”.

Hun siger, at entusiasme og positiv feedback er altafgørende for at få forretningssucces i USA, også selvom det gælder en rutineopgave. Ellers kan du blive opfattet som uinteresseret eller ligeglad.

Hvad er de primære forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA?

“En af dem er hierarki. I Danmark elsker vi fladt hierarki. Selvom en person er to niveauer over vores eget, går vi gerne direkte til ham eller hende.

“Amerikanerne er meget mere beskyttende i forhold til deres hierarki. De er succesorienterede og mener, at man når kun til tops, hvis man har særlige evner og talenter. Så hvis man oplever at blive omgået, bliver det set som meget respektløst,” siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Hun tilføjer, at Amerikanere forventer at få klare målsætninger på de opgaver, de får. Hvis du ikke selv er sikker på den præcise målsætning, så inddrag dine amerikanske samarbejdspartnere i at definere dem og husk at følge op.

Og Kay siger, at i USA forventer kunder at få hjælp omgående. Sørg for at det er muligt for dem at få kontakt til jer, og at medarbejdernes ferie overlapper hinanden. “Det duer det ikke at spise en amerikansk kunde af med, at Jens er på ferie i tre uger, og at kunden ikke kan få hjælp, før han er tilbage,” siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Læs mere om forskelle på virksomhedskulturen i Danmark og i USA på Kongressen.com.

Lær mere om Kay Xander Mellish, Amerikansk foredragsholder i Danmark – “Helping Danes and Americans Work Better Together.”

Køb Kay’s bøger, “Working with Americans: Tips for Danes” og “Working with Danes: Tips for Americans” på Saxo, Amazon, Google Books, Apple Books eller Kays webshop.

In the Media

The “13 Scale” and what it means for Danish working culture

Kay says: Something I often talk about when I talk about Danish working culture is the 13 scale.

The 13 scale was a grading scale used in Danish schools from the 1960s until about 15 years ago, so it’s likely to be influential on the people you do business with, even though it’s since been replaced.

Under the 13 scale, an excellent piece of work, a student paper that was pretty much flawless, would get a grade of 11. But….there was the opportunity to get a 13 – if you went beyond perfect, did something exceptional, and taught the teacher something.

This willingness to challenge authority, challenge the status quo and the accepted wisdom, is one of the reasons Denmark is so innovative and punches far beyond its weight on the world stage.

But for international managers, it can be tricky. When they are challenged by their team, they can confuse this lack of deference with lack of respect.

I’m the boss, thinks the international manager. I give you my wisdom, I make the decisions, you carry them out.

But that’s not where their Danish team is coming from. They believe that challenging the accepted wisdom is the best way to get to an inventive result, maybe even something groundbreaking, maybe even earn the workplace equivalent – of a grade of 13.

 

Book Kay for an in-person or virtual event: Read more.

See our previous video: “The Kvajebajer and Danish working culture

In the Media

The Kvajebajer, or “Failure Beer”, and what it means for Danish work culture

Kay says:  It’s hard to understand the Danish style of working without understanding the kvajebajer. This is a word that translates roughly to “failure beer.”

It dates all the way back to the Vikings, but I see that a Danish brewery just introduced a whole new selection of Failure Beer earlier this year. No, I’m not getting paid to advertise it.

A failure beer is something you provide to all your colleagues when they’ve just seen you make a foolish or avoidable mistake.

If it’s working hours, you might opt for a failure cake instead. For example, I had a client, a small tech firm, that was three days late with an important delivery. When they brought the  delivery, they brought a failure cake along too.

Failure cake or failure beer is about an acceptance of human frailty. And it’s rooted in the Danish passion for equality. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, so let’s have a beer.

But this approach can be hard for internationals to handle. If you come from a very litigious society, like the USA, admitting that you made a mistake can make you feel like you’ll be the target of a lawsuit. Better to find someone else to blame.

Or if you come from an honor-based society, like China or Pakistan, you may feel that to admit you’ve made a mistake is a loss of face, a humiliation, a loss of honor.

But honor is not a big part of Danish culture. Surveys show that Denmark has the world’s lowest rate of gelotophobia, that is, fear of being laughed at.

The Danish way, if you’ve made a mistake, is to admit it, analyze what went wrong, plan to do it differently and, if time allows, buy everyone on your team a kvajebajer, or failure beer.

 

Book Kay for an in-person or virtual event: Read more.

See our video about how the 13 scale of grading affects Danish working culture.

In the Media

See the “How to Live in Denmark” podcast on YouTube

There are now more than a hundred episodes of the How to Live in Denmark podcast available, and a few of them are now also available as “lyric videos” on our YouTube channel.

If you’re not a native English speaker or just enjoy seeing the words to the podcast while you listen, the lyric videos (which you may be familiar with from your favorite pop songs) might be a good solution for you.

Check them out on the How to Live in Denmark YouTube Channel.

You can subscribe there, or on any of the most popular podcast services, including iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Castbox, or Gaana.

In the Media

How to Live in Denmark in the Media

On TV2’s “Go’ Morgen Danmark,” Kay recently discussed the differences between US and Danish working culture.

In addition, DR.DK featured Kay in a story about how Americans perceive Danish social habits.

Journalist og forfatter Kay Xander Mellish, der har boet i Danmark siden år 2000 og har udgivet bøger med titler som ‘How to Live in Denmark’ og ‘How to Work in Denmark’. Bøgerne er skrevet med en tilflytters perspektiv og kaster et kærligt-kritisk blik på danskernes vaner og uvaner.

– Jeg er for nylig begyndt at coache danskere i de kulturelle forskelle, de vil opleve, når de laver forretninger i USA. Her er en vigtig læring, at danskere generelt ikke bryder sig om at give positiv feedback, medmindre noget er virkelig sensationelt,

Kay also noted the difference in the way Danes and Americans handle social events, particularly dinner parties.

“Når du er til et middagsselskab i Danmark, forventes det, at du bliver hængende virkelig, virkelig længe. Det forventes også, at du bliver siddende på den samme plads hele aftenen og i øvrigt drikker store mængder alkohol,” siger Kay Xander Mellish.

“Når du er inviteret til middag i USA, så rejser du dig, når du er færdig med at spise, og går måske ind i stuen og ser tv eller gamer sammen eller går i biografen. I USA tolkes det som dårlig opdragelse, hvis du bliver hængende for længe og bliver en byrde for din vært.

“I Danmark tolkes det derimod som uhøfligt, hvis du som gæst tager tidligt hjem. Da jeg kom hertil, kom jeg til at fornærme mange danskere, fordi jeg ikke forstod denne kulturelle forskel.”

Finally, BBC.com quoted Kay Xander Mellish in its story The Single Word that Connects Denmark.

It quoted Kay as saying:

Heavily subsidised through taxes, Danish daycare centres foster social mindedness early in life. “Almost everyone goes to public daycare in Denmark,” said Kay Xander Mellish, author of the books How to Live in Denmark and How to Work in Denmark. “Even Prince Christian, the future King Christian XI, attended public daycare.” Every child born in Denmark is guaranteed a place in daycare from six months to six years of age where the emphasis is on playing and socialising – formal education doesn’t begin until age eight or nine.

A culture where everyone is well looked after fosters trust and a sense of all being in it together

“In the first few years,” said Mellish, “children learn the basic rules for functioning as a society. They learn how to sit at a table at lunch time, wait until it is their turn to be served, and feed themselves. In the playground, they spend most of their time in “free play”, in which they make up rules for their own games.”

Staff generally don’t lead play, she explained, which “allows the children to form their own groups and learn how to work together on their own.”

And Kristeligt Dagblad interviewed Kay about the role of alcohol in Danish life.

“”Jeg husker tydeligt mine første julefrokoster, hvor alle de gifte mænd pludselig var enormt interesseret i at blive venner med én og tale om, at deres koner aldrig forstod dem,” siger Kay Xander Mellish.

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts.

Denmark and the USA, In the Media

USA Denmark Cultural Differences

Interested in the USA Denmark cultural differences?

As a companion to her new book, “Working with Danes: Tips for Americans”, Kay Xander Mellish has created a selection of articles about US business culture vs Danish business culture.

Kay discusses business culture in Denmark, with its emphasis on low hierarchy and trust, as well as business etiquette in Denmark, such as highlighting group achievements over individuals and not singling any person out for blame.

She even offers a few quirky tips for people interested in moving to the USA from Denmark or how to move to Denmark from the USA.

Kay is an author, speaker, and cultural coach based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Her new book is a companion volume to her previous book, “Working with Americans: Tips for Danes” which was published in 2019.

(Læs det på dansk: Kuturforskel mellem Danmark og USA.)

Book an event
If you represent a company or organization and would like to have an American keynote speaker in Denmark make a presentation to your group, contact Kay via this site’s contact form for more information.

Alternately, you can read more about all of Kay’s events on the How to Live in Denmark events page.

Flip Book Working with Americans Working with Danes

Buy Kay Xander Mellish’s new book, Working with Danes: Tips for Americans/Working with Americans: Tips for Danes on our webshop, or at Amazon, Saxo, Google Books, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, or via our webshop.

Or follow Kay on LinkedIn.

In the Media

Kay on Go’ Morgen Danmark: Tips on Making Friends

Making friends was the topic on Go’ Morgen Danmark when Kay Xander Mellish visited the national morning show to discuss a recent report saying that Denmark was one of the hardest countries in the world for internationals to make friends.

“Danes are actually very good friends – they are good friends you can count on. But because they want that kind of relationship where you can count on each other, they want to have a limited number of friends. They often make those friends in primary school or high school. So if you’re 39 or 49, it’s very difficult to find new friends.”

How did Kay make friends when she arrived in Denmark? asked host Mikkel Kryger.

“I took the initiative again and again and again, even when it came to dating. Danes are very nice people, but they don’t want to impose on others. They don’t want to disturb you. So if you want to be friends, or date them, you have to ask the first time…and the second time…and maybe even the third time if you want to come into their circle of friendship.”

The number one tip
“Kay, another thing one can do is read your book, because you’ve written almost a guide for coming to Denmark, How to Live in Denmark. You’ve shared some of your own experiences,” said host Mikkel Kryger. “What do you think are some of the solutions to these challenges internationals face when moving here?”

Kay said, “The number one tip I give to people is – if you want a Danish friend, find a Dane who didn’t grow up where you live now. So if you’re here in Copenhagen, you need to find someone who grew up in Aalborg, or Viborg, or Sønderborg, because they don’t have their network. They don’t have all their old school friends, or family friends.

“If you find someone who grew up here in Copenhagen, they’re always busy.”

Danes who have recently returned from living abroad are another good focus group, Kay says, since they’re often looking for more diversity in their social circles.

Denmark and the USA, In the Media, Working in Denmark: Danish Business Culture

Tips for Working with Americans in Børsen

In a recent edition of the Danish business newspaper Børsen, Kay Xander Mellish offered seven “Tips for Working with Americans“.

“I hear it again and again when I speak to my clients who deal with American colleagues, customers and suppliers: We thought the cultures were pretty much alike, but they’re not,” Kay writes in Danish.

“The US is a high-risk, high-reward culture that can seem both exhilarating and cruel to a Dane raised on social cohesion, trust, and safety. And American business culture reflects both the excitement and energy and unforgiving nature of American life.”

Tips for working with Americans
In the Børsen article, Kay offers several tips from her new book Working with Americans: Tips for Danes.

Act enthusiastic.The cool, controlled behaviour and flat speaking voice that signify a mature adult in Denmark can be misinterpreted by Americans as disinterest or even boredom. Americans live life with an exclamation point. If you want Americans to get excited about your product, you will need to act as enthusiastic as they do.

Think big. Danes sometimes make the mistake of “thinking small” when going into a negotiation and focusing only on the potential deal at hand. But their American counterparts may not want to limit themselves. They may think bigger, bigger, bigger. In American business as American life, you can always go much lower or much higher, in price or in scope. Be prepared for upselling if the opportunity presents itself.

Give positive feedback. Danes often take the approach that “We hired you to do a job, you’re doing it, and we’ll let you know if there is a problem.” But Americans raised on a culture of constant positive reinforcement often perceive this as “You only call us when something goes wrong.” Keep your US employees and suppliers happy by adopting the habit of regular appreciation for everything that goes right.

Avoid sarcasm and Danish humor. Humor is always tough to export, and the Danish conviction that everyone should be able to make fun of themselves can clash with American sensitivities in a politically correct age. Sarcasm is another risk – the Americans probably won’t understand it and it could get you branded as a negative person, one of the worst things to be in American eyes.

Set specific targets and outline assignments. Danish employees like a feeling of independence, of being given a project outline and trusted to finish it well and on time. American employees are accustomed to clearer instructions and goals. Some may find the Danish approach refreshing, but most will find it nebulous and confusing. Americans also expect more monitoring. If you’re not watching them, some employees will take the opportunity to goof off.

US customers expect high availability. If you’re dealing with a US customer or business partner, don’t count on them to be understanding when you take an extended Danish-style summer vacation and they can’t reach you. In the US, the customer is king and convenience is queen, so if you make access to you or your product too difficult, competitors may see an opening. Limited “telephone times” like in Denmark don’t work; you need to be available at any time within working hours, and sometimes outside them.

Hierarchy is a part of the meritocratic culture. One aspect of American life Danes don’t always understand is how hard it is to make to the top, even for people who come from a relatively privileged background. Once a man or a woman has become a boss, they want the respect and the power that comes with that position. They like their titles, and they’ll often make decisions on their own, without seeking consensus from their team.

Before you go, study the differences
The most important thing to remember is that even though the US and Denmark have a lot in common – like a lack of patience with formalities, and the love of a good deal – the business cultures are very different. Study those differences and plan how you’ll handle them before you go.

Read the original article in Danish.

Flip Book Working with Americans Working with Danes

Buy Kay Xander Mellish’s new book, Working with Danes: Tips for Americans/Working with Americans: Tips for Danes on our webshop, or at Amazon, Saxo, Google Books, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, or via our webshop.

Book Kay for a Working With Americans presentation for your group or organization.

Or follow Kay on LinkedIn.

Image mashup credit: Kay Xander Mellish 2021

Read more:
Tips for Danes working with Americans, and Americans working with Danes