Keep these three culture tips in mind to get off on the right foot with the Dutch:
Getting the Job Done: Go Slow to Go Fast
Although well-known for being highly efficient, the Dutch won’t hesitate to spend a lot of time discussing details and making sure everything is according to rules. As a result, in many companies the decision-making process is slow and ponderous, involving wide consultation. Consensus is vital. The Dutch will keep talking until all parties agree. However, once decisions are made, implementation is fast and efficient.
Business Over a Meal: Not So Much
Food does not play the major role in hospitality that it does in many other cultures. Therefore, it is not considered essential for making someone feel welcome. Do not expect to be served a meal unless the invitation specifically mentions one. While appropriate to discuss business during lunch, business breakfasts are not common. And on a related note, the Dutch are not a fan of obviously chewing gum in public; this is especially a no-go in business meetings.
Language: Say What?
The Dutch will shake hands and say “hi” and then their (last) name. They also answer the telephone with their last name. Introduce yourself if no one is present to introduce you. The Dutch consider it rude not to identify yourself.
Call the Netherlands, ‘the Netherlands’ and not ‘Holland’. Holland is a region within the Netherlands.
Finally, the Dutch value privacy and seldom spontaneously speak to strangers. It is more likely that they will wait for you to make the first move. Don’t be afraid to do so!