Netherlands: Public Behaviour – Part 3


Final tips

Even smoking is not totally banned from television, let alone from daily life, although in companies it is no longer allowed, though not without protest. The Dutch like to challenge the rules here, as in other situations.

Although not totally unacceptable and in fact now also done by some Dutch youngsters, it is bad manners just to say ‘hi’ to people clearly older than oneself, let alone ‘higher.’ One also doesn’t do this with strangers.

The Dutch don’t say ‘excuse me’ all the time, but a muffled ‘sorry’ or they just smile apologetically, e.g. when sneezing, or coughing a lot. Yawning in public is rude, certainly when not covering the mouth.

Using toothpicks or chewing gum in public is unacceptable in business circles. Also, talking with your hands in your pockets is considered rude.

Breaking promises is also considered rude, so the Dutch either don’t make promises or you can count on them being serious about it, so that you may ask questions if action doesn’t follow.

Also in debate, which they like, the Dutch expect an open-minded exchange, perhaps shocking foreigners with strong [possibly politically incorrect] opinions but expecting the same frankness from the other side, and then a willingness to come to a compromise or shared views.

Foreigners may, of course, ask questions on aspects of Dutch society such as the drugs or sex legislation, or on the desirability of monarchy in the modern world, but they should prove to be well informed before producing opinions.

Most Dutch people frown upon openly boasting, showing off or indicating one’s importance or contacts in high places. Success is respected but it should be achieved through one’s own effort, and accompanied by modest attitudes. Showing good taste, any status symbols should be refined and low-key rather than shiny or conspicuous.

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