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Do's and don'ts about the Dutch culture

Do's and don'ts

The Dutch Culture

The Netherlands has a rich, diverse culture that stems from years of historical events and involvement in political affairs. The Dutch often consider religion, culture and ethnic diversity to be a fundamental part of their religion. The mentality of a nationalist is strongly resisted against in big parts of the Netherlands, defining our tolerance against differences and our sense of openness and permissiveness.


Culture: Do's!

  • When working or talking with a Dutch person, try to respect their personal space. Many value their privacy very much and tend to get irritated when their space is invaded, especially by someone they don't know that well
  • The Dutch love their humor! So feel free to crack a joke when in the appropriate setting and everyone's feeling comfortable with it
  • People in the Netherlands often love to partake in deeper conversations, so try to converse about these deep topics as we enjoy these quite a lot!
  • Keep a structured agenda, the Dutch experience missing appointments as annoying and often unreliable. You can be 10 minutes late due to traffic problems but is not taken for granted
  • Give your suggestions too, most decisions are made based on consensus and therefore everyone's opinion is involved in the decisionmaking
  • It is usual to provide a tip in Dutch restaurants, often only when the meal and the service provided is to one's liking. The usual tipping percentage is around 5-10% on the total price

Culture: Don'ts!

  • Try not to come across as arrogant, as Dutch people don't appreciate it and often will dislike you for it. Saying things that can be considered pretentious or boastful could give the impression that you see yourself as someone superior
  • The Dutch are known for their tolerance towards ethnic minorities or alternative lifestyles, so avoid showing intolerance to these minorities as it will likely lead to disapproval from the Dutch people.
  • Don't visit Dutch people unannounced as they like to plan things ahead and know what they're up to. This counts for friends as well as work relations
  • Most customs of your own country are often not considered as very welcome in the Netherlands. Although the Dutch are known for being quite open, they do have their boundaries.
  • Don't try to only speak English and not do the effort to learn Dutch. After a while, the Dutch will dislike you for not putting the effort in.
  • Don't light your cigarette everywhere as almost all places in the Netherlands are designated as non-smoking areas.


The Netherlands

So, what can you take away from this?

In general, the Dutch are very open and upfront. They are also very honest and will let you know, one way or another, that they don't like you or what you're doing. But that also makes the good side of the Dutch as they are really interested in you and the stuff you have to say and would love to partake in a deeper conversation with you. 

But don't try to come off as boastful or pretentious, the Dutch will quickly catch on to this and dislike you for it. So try to be modest, respectful and structured in your lifestyle and build you career in the Netherlands!

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