This list would not be complete if we did not discuss the elephant in the room: Dutch directness. Now you’ve heard the rumours, the stereotypes, the hearsay, and the clichés -and I’m here to tell you, that like the majority of gossip, they are, in fact…all absolutely true! Dutch people are direct. Direct to the point of shocking at times. Direct to the point of “what the f@#$ did he just say to me?!?. If you plan to spend any times in the lowlands you had better get used to it, and fast!
This Dutch trait has gone by many names; call it what you will – abrupt, bad-mannered, barbaric, blunt, brusque, cheeky, crude, curt, direct, discourteous, forthright, frank, graceless, gruff, honest, ignorant, impolite, inconsiderate, insulting, intrusive, matter-of-fact, open, outspoken, plain, point-blank, raw, refreshing, rude, sincere, straightforward, surprising, uncouth or unmannerly. Essentially, the bottom line remains: the Dutch speak their minds.
Now, relax folks – don’t kill the messenger, I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m just appropriating the Dutch culture and telling you how it really is. ;)
Dutch people don’t mince words. You certainly won’t find them biting their tongues, dying for the courage to finally speak freely. Don’t feel like hearing from your co-worker that she actually doesn’t think your new haircut is all that nice. Too bad. Don’t want to know that the speech you made and worried might have sucked, did in fact, suck, big time. Get used to it. In the Netherlands you are likely going to hear a lot of statements, that in other cultures politely fall into the category of “better left unsaid”.
Whereas nationalities such as the British, Canadian and in some cases American, shy away from discussing “hot topics” such as religion, immigration, politics, money, etc. Dutch people revel in such lively and opinion-fueled debate. Dutch people value honesty and sincerity. What we (non-Dutch peeps) might consider rude or blunt, the Dutch perceive as honesty and truth. In fact, they pride themselves in having and expressing an opinion. Don’t have an opinion? Well, you had better get one fast!
The Dutch are in fact proud of all this directness and their very unique tell-it-as-they-see-it mentality. They often consider the English or American forms of politeness a sign of weakness, and reeking of insincerity and hypocrisy (two traits Dutch people absolutely despise). It turns out for the Dutch, there isn’t much in between those two startling extremes (directness and insincerity) and when faced with such a choice, there is obviously only one answer. Not quite sure which side you choose? Well, in the words of the famously
rude direct Dutch speed-skater, Sven Kramer, “Are you stupid?”