Imagine some of those perfect contradictions that make this world a better place—sweet and sour, fire and ice, kick and snare—the possibilities are endless.
Now imagine an actual city that works that way. That city is Amsterdam. The perfect contrast of order and disorder, organization and discord, beauty and dirt, righteousness and sin—Amsterdamers are not easy to classify.
To the uneducated outsider, one may easily mistake the Dutch for being incredibly laid back, grungy, and perhaps even a little wild. After all, this is the country known outside of its borders for marijuana and open-window prostitution. But spend 10 minutes talking to a local, and you’ll quickly see that your preconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here are your 12 tips to help you make sure you can fit in here in the Netherlands:
- Be direct. Beating around the bush is not typically a part of communication here.
- Respect everyone’s opinion—no matter what someone’s title or place on the hierarchy, everyone’s voice gets heard here.
- Along these same lines, decisions are typically made in the spirit of group consensus.
- In light of that, get rid of that idea that these are liberal people. Conservatism runs deep in many aspects of the culture here, and change is slow to come by.
- They probably know more about your culture than you do about theirs. And they definitely speak your language better than you speak theirs.
- Don’t be pretentious. It won’t make you friends here.
- Of course the Dutch have a sense of humor, but refrain from trying out your new material in a business meeting.
- You may be used to going to happy hour with your colleagues after work. They are not. There is actually a fairly strong separation between work and personal life.
- You may be proud of your education, and that’s great. But they are probably just as educated as you.
- If you are going to work here, don’t plan to hop jobs as one may do elsewhere. Continuing the theme of conservatism and slow change, Dutch workers tend to maintain loyalty to one company for a long time.
- As such, employers are loyal to employees—Dutch labor laws make it difficult for them to get rid of unwanted workers.
- Don’t let the conservatism intimidate you—it is common to address colleagues informally, by first name.
Now you’re all set to navigate a social or business situation in the Netherlands like a local!
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