The Dutch have a reputation for being so forthright and direct as to be impolite. There is, however, such a thing as Dutch etiquette. Here are the primary considerations.
1. Shaking hands
Handshakes are a Dutch obsession and one of those cultural norms and values that all foreigners must adopt in order to be fully integrated. The Dutch frequently shake hands. You are expected to introduce yourself and shake hands with everyone at a party filled with strangers. When you return from vacation, you shake hands with your coworkers.
You will shake hands, germs and all, with your doctor, your children’s teachers, the man who sells you a used car, and basically anyone else. If you do not automatically shake hands with everyone, you will be identified as a foreigner and likely a Muslim fundamentalist.
You will never get this correct if you are from a country that lacks a polite form of the you word. Everyone besides children and close friends should be addressed as U to keep things simple. If they dislike it, they will say “Just say “jij!” If you want to flatter someone into doing you a favor, you should emphasize the word U and use a great deal of mijnheer or mevrouw (like a grumpy council official).
Obviously, if you are a woman, you can expect to do a lot of kissing (three times). If you dislike kissing your male coworkers, you should avoid the office in the days following the New Year and on your birthday. According to Beatrijs Ritsema, a Dutch etiquette expert, cheek to cheek contact is perfectly acceptable.
Unless they are in a university fraternity, Dutch men do not hug, and if they do, there is typically enough space between the hugger and the huggee to drive a coach through. Typically, these half-hugs are accompanied by embarrassed pats on the back. Dutch women do not spontaneously embrace. If you’re unsure, do not attempt a hug.
5. Coffee and tea
Always offer no matter what time of day or night it is. You must have several varieties of herbal tea on offer, including Moroccan Mint.
If you have your own mint plantation and can drop a few sprigs into a glass of hot water, you will receive bonus points. Because it will add at least €50 to the bill, a reputable plumber will decline a coffee break with you.
6. Provide numerous biscuits.
There is a common misconception that the Dutch only offer one cookie. The opposite is true. You may not receive any biscuits. We believe the origin of the one-cookie legend lies in the fact that most cafes provide a small cookie with your coffee. Which you didn’t order.
The Dutch are often viewed as impolite because they do not say please or alsjeblieft frequently. They do not, but this is how language operates. If you are begging, as in “pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee But asking for salt is as simple as asking “may I have salt?”
However, if you want to impress your Dutch friends with your politeness, peppering your conversation with “please” can work wonders.
Don’t expect to be welcomed at a friend’s house if you show up unannounced. The Dutch prefer to schedule appointments three weeks in advance. And if you are invited to a friend’s home and they begin washing dishes and preparing sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch, it is time for you to leave. If invited to dinner, confirm what time you’re expected to arrive. The Dutch make a joke about eating promptly at 18:00, but many of them actually do. We have made numerous mistakes.
9. Should I bring something with me?
If you are invited to a meal or picnic, it is courteous to offer to bring a dish. Expect this generous offer to be accepted. People have reportedly been asked to bring the meat. In the Netherlands, it is also customary to bring flowers or chocolates for your hostess, rather than two bottles of prosecco to conceal the fact that you are a bit of an alcoholic. And you won’t even get to drink it.
10. Special occasions
Birthdays are so difficult that they have their own set of rules.
Topic: 10 ways to be polite to Dutch people
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