The Netherlands Cultural background

The Dutch are well known for being straight forward in their communication. Some experience this as rude, others appreciate the honesty. Doing business with a Dutchman can be experienced as a no-nonsense business conversation. In comparison with many other Europeans, Dutch get down to business straight away and small talk is avoided.

Etiquette When meeting family, friends and acquaintances it is common that everyone gives each other three kisses on alternating cheeks. Men in general shake each other’s hand, or just greet each other verbal. A Dutch child can critise its parents without being considered disobedient or disrespectful.

Doing Business: You shake hands, introduce yourself and talk business. Often you’re immediately called by your surname or first name, even if you’re the managing director. In the Netherlands a deal is a deal and often finished and agreed upon with a handshake. It is not done to start negotiations all over again after a deal has been done or contract has been signed. Spoken agreements, invitations and promises are often taken literally.

Presents: In Holland, it is a custom to bring along a present, not only to a birthday,  but also when you’re invited for dinner to someone’s house. This could be a book, flowers, chocolates or bottle of wine. If you receive a present, you’re expected to unwrap it straight away.

Food: Food doesn’t play an important role in the Dutch culture. Breakfasts are often skipped, lunch is a meal of bread, sliced cheese or meats and dinner is mostly potatoes, vegetables and a piece of me. Coffee and tea are enjoyed throughout the day.     Dinner t home us between 18.00 and 19.00 p.m. Restaurants often close their kitchen around nine o’clock.

Funerals: Typical to the character of the Dutch, a funeral isn’t seen as something to make a big fuss about. Although custom funeral services are gaining popularity, the traditional funeral is most common.

Sports: The most popular sports in the Netherlands is football, but the Dutch have  a world wide repuation in; hockey, cycling, volleyball, handball, swimming and ice-skating. Orange is related to the Dutch Royal Family and represents the national sports identity of the Netherlands.

Social ways: The Dutch are creative, open minded and pragmatic. They are known for their tolerant attitudes towards topics such as abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia and (soft) drug use. Often they are looking for consensus rather than confrontation.  Dutch people are generally well informed and want the world to know that they are by getting involved in discussions.