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Are the Dutch A Rude Nation?

A girl walks into a bar in Amsterdam and orders a cocktail with a glass of tap water. The bartender replies: “Next you’ll be bringing your own cocktail to drink in my bar,” as he twists open a bottle of Spa Blauw water for her. True story. Well, in all honesty, the bar was, in fact, a restaurant, and the cocktail a meal.

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If you are thinking of moving to Amsterdam, then be forewarned that this is the kind of reception you can expect to receive.


So what gives?

The Dutch are notorious for being direct to the point some may find them downright rude. Let’s face it, this kind of abrupt and impolite behavior will not wash in countries like the United States, where service comes with a smile and a glass of tap water on the house.


But this is the Dutch for you. They’ll never hide what they’re really thinking or feeling, and will give it to you straight. You won’t ever have to second-guess your Dutch friends or colleagues as they won’t beat around the bush trying to protect your feelings.


If your friends don’t like your new look, they’ll tell you. If your colleagues don’t like your work, you won’t have to read between any lines.


What many consider to be rude is, in fact, a nation being honest and sincere. The Dutch take pride in their ability to speak their mind. They see it as a character strength, whereas politeness is regarded as a weakness.


The Dutch don’t intend to be bad-mannered or hurt anyone’s feelings, but for the rest of us brought up to be polite, this is how they come across. It’s no wonder many expats leave within months of their arrival, not being able to take such brutal honesty being slapped in their face.

Much has been written about the Dutch rudeness and books on “Dealing with the Dutch


It’s hard to imagine Dutch directness going down well. Most people do their best to keep their truth to themselves to avoid verbal or physical confrontation. But not the Dutch. Ironically there are hardly any street brawls breaking out or tiffs between colleagues or friends. This sort of thing mostly happens in places where people tend to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves.


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So are the Dutch holding the key that can bring about world peace? Is the answer we’ve all been looking for simply to be more honest and sincere? The Dutch controversially made prostitution and marijuana legal, which consequently made the streets of Amsterdam a safer place to be.

The world is slowly following suit with states in the US legalizing pot. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but the world will slowly come to realize that the Dutch have a method to their madness.

So whether you’re new in Amsterdam or planning your move, be prepared for a culture shock and then some. But instead of running for the hills (of which there are none in the Netherlands), you might like to stay awhile and see what you can learn in the land of the rude.


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