Respect is shown through speaking one’s mind and being direct. Little respect is given to those who appear devious or underhand in what they are saying.
This directness of approach can sometimes be misconstrued as aggression or even rudeness – but is, rather, a useful tool for enabling the meeting to reach an agreed solution.
Paradoxically, due to the consensual nature of decision making in the Netherlands it can be sometimes difficult to get a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This seeming unwillingness is more a sign of no decision having been yet reached than any subtle politicking.
It is important to appear unpretentious. Whatever you are, do not think of yourself as something special. Therefore self-promotion of the type that might be found in the USA is seen as being distasteful and will probably be thought of as arrogant.
Although humour is often used in business situations, it is not all-pervasive and discussions are often very serious with irony or sarcasm being interpreted as lack of commitment.
Remember that even though the Dutch speak very good English, much humour is culturally-based and unintelligible to other cultures.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in The Netherlands only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.