Guide to the Dutch: How we look upon and judge the lifestyle and workplace of other cultures depends on how we view the world from our own cultural background. The Dutch appear to be like many other Europeans. However, when you live and work in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, you will find many differences.
The Dutch Mindset
The Dutch have the reputation of being one of the happiest nations in the world. There is something seemingly insulting and yet absolutely freeing in the fact that the Dutch people do not care about you. We’re talking about a place where you don’t need to be or even speak Dutch to be treated like an equal by the locals.
The Dutch Personality Traits
The Netherlands is a nation of traders with strong protestant, if not Calvinist, values. Work is viewed as a noble endeavor and laziness as a sin, the pursuit of wealth is a hobby first and then a career goal, spending is done in a parsimonious way or as an expression of deeply ingrained perversions, and the accumulation of wealth and money is viewed as a virtue. The Netherlands is known to be an efficient, organized and disciplined nation. Their tolerance makes life easier for everyone and consequently also helps business – the Dutch have always been a nation of merchants, after all.
The Dutch Traditions
The Dutch society is egalitarian and modern. The people are modest, tolerant, independent, self-reliant, and entrepreneurial. The Dutch will shake hands and say their last name, instead of the usual “Hello.” They also answer the telephone with their last name. The Dutch consider it rude not to identify yourself. The Dutch value privacy and seldom speak to strangers – It is more likely that they will wait for you to make the first move. So don’t be afraid to do so.
The Dutch expect to establish eye contact while speaking with someone. In the Netherlands, commitments are taken seriously and are honored. Do not promise anything or make an offer that you are not planning to deliver.
The Dutch Values
The Dutch like to establish a clear wall between their private and work life. Work time is meant for work and nothing else. Dutch love to be outspoken: they have an opinion about almost everyone and everything and are not afraid to express it, no matter what, even when it would mean a serious breach to the harmony and the context of the moment.
The Dutch Culture
Punctuality is essential and expected in the Dutch business culture. If you know that you will be late, make sure to call in advance and excuse yourself with a valid reason. Generally, the Dutch don’t spend a lot of time socializing before a meeting or other business discussions. As soon as the necessary introductions are made, they will most likely proceed with the business at hand. Privacy is of key importance in the Netherlands.