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Are you looking to avoid confrontation and be aware of the cultural sensitivities of others? Or seeking to engage in petty evil and annoy a friend or neighbor? This post will help discover what annoys Estonians.

1. Talking too loudly

I come from a fairly loud family, partly due to some Italian- Polish relatives where screaming is just a sign of affection. In Estonia, I have gotten in trouble quite a few times because of this. One time stood out in particular where I was actually doing my best to whisper on a bus, but to an Estonian that can be at the volume level of a low scream. Needless to say, I got yelled out and called an obnoxious foreigner. Unfortunately, they weren’t aware of my natural response to conflict is to get louder and sassy.

2. Asking them how they’re doing

Estonians are very observant people they get most of their information from staying aware of the situation. If you are around an Estonian every day, they probably have a general idea of what you got going on. Estonians also expect others to be somewhat observant, so an asking an Estonian “what’s new” or “how things are going” can be especially annoying if you see them frequently.

3. Not taking your shoes off in a house

In the US, there’s no real rules for taking your shoes off in a house, but in Estonia, it is a must. Taking your shoes beyond the front mat is usually met by shady glances and a head shake of disapproval. Just visiting for a second? Take your shoes off. Forgot your keys? Take your shoes off. Lifting a heavy piece of furniture? It’s now arm day stop and take your shoes off and don’t drop it.

4. Random compliments

I love complimenting people, if I see something I like or if someone has cool hair I must compliment them! Here things can get a little awkward. Most Estonian’s are surprised but thankful if a stranger compliments them, but just as many get very uncomfortable from a stranger’s compliment.
Foreigner: Excuse me, but your shirt is really cool!
Estonian: It’s not for sale! (Wild Estonian has fled)

5. Invading their personal space

Estonians have a limit to how much personal contact they’re okay with. Even a close friend may only be up for a brief hug. If you’re ever in a cuddly mood, you may find your friends cowering in fear from your love!

6. Referring to Estonia as Eastern Europe

Estonia has strong ties with Nordic countries and largely due to unfortunate historical circumstance was this connection weakened. So if you refer to Estonia as Eastern Europe you’re likely to get a lecture on how Estonia is a Nordic country. This is definitely an easy way to troll your Estonian friends. To add extra insult to injury, you can even mention it as part of Russia. That’s sure to get a good reaction ;)

7. Smiling at strangers

This has become one of my favorite past times. Walk around an Estonian town and smile at everyone you see. Most people will ignore you and some smile back, but occasionally you will find one who cringes or has a visceral reaction to your positivity :D. Not quite sure why this happens, but it can be quite entertaining.

8. Attempting to engage in small talk

Many countries enjoy pointless banter about the weather or how the person’s day is going. If it’s not important and you don’t know the person well, it can be seen as an annoyance. Though if a cashier or line is taking a little while this is one way to speed up the service!

9. Direct eye contact

When speaking to an Estonian occasional eye contact is good but glancing around is the norm. Holding direct eye contact can make Estonians feel very uncomfortable. You could combine this with a compliment, a smile, or general small talk for added effect.

10. Asking them to say 12 months in Estonian

Yes, they know it sounds sexual. Yes, every foreigner they’ve ever met has had them say it. Yes, they find it extremely annoying. My friends in the US have me do the exact same thing all the time, so I feel their pain on this one.

Those were 10 things that can annoy Estonians. These things don’t apply to everyone, and everyone has their own tolerance for different things. I hope you use the knowledge on this post for good and not evil, but sometimes it’s okay to be petty just do it at your own discretion.