You have to deal with the Dutch culture and yourself. After landing the job you’re now working in a team consisting of mainly Dutch people. And you’re their manager, or the expert and you have to direct them informally.
Are you feeling at loss, now you are expected to speak up for yourself instead of being told what to do? Do your Dutch colleagues react in unexpected, maybe even slightly offensive ways?
Dealing with Dutch Culture
So there is more to the Dutch than tulips, wooden shoes and windmills. You knew that. And there are quite a few things you didn’t know but are discovering. For some of you the Dutch seem brutally direct, to others emotionally cold. Dutch people may come across as opinionated, not doing as they’re told. Hierarchy averse, or subtly cliquey.
Some Dutch may state that “we have no taboos”, but you’re beginning to suspect there are some. (For example: to be open about your how much money you make or have, is considered bad manners).
Some may tell you that “we are all equal here”. This is not entirely true, you may have noticed that there are very covert, but existing, class distinctions.
I often hear Dutch people say: “they” (meaning foreigners) should also adapt to us a little. This may sound fair to Dutch people, as in both parties give and take. This assumption is very much part of the Dutch culture, and many will unconsciously act accordingly.
But in my opinion this is an over-simplification of cultural exchange. As a mindset it maybe a good starting point. In practice it takes a lot of hard work, patience, self reflection and respect to bridge cultural differences and expectations. For good communication and cooperation, you both have to do the work.
Then there is you. Your own personality and preferences are another aspect of communication. Personality comes from your talents and inborn preferences and how your family welcomed these. Self-confidence growths from how your (grand)parents and family loved and treated you. You me be more of a content- oriented person or more a relationship type of person. Or you maybe more introverted than extraverted. Maybe you are sensitive to your environment, or not so handy with subtle social clues. Your self-confidence and communication skills will increase the better you know yourself and the more you can express who you are.
Random learning or take a structured approach with a coach
So you have to find out for yourself how it works. Or do you? Coaching maybe a quicker way to become more at ease with yourself and more cultural savvy. Here is my approach:
-Starting point is knowing what makes you you
1 your preferences and how to expres these
2 the values that are important to you and how to live accordingly
3 actively seek what inspires you
-Next we will explore the hidden subtleties of the Dutch office culture and compare them to your own cultural background. You wil learn to recognize how cultural differences affect you.
-Then you will learn to use a non-violent communication style to express your needs and views across cultures.
My background: started in biology (PhD level), then switched to consultancy in multicultural IT environments. Here I have met and worked with many people from different nationalities and social backgrounds. Ten years ago I started further developing my natural coaching skills and I have worked as a coach with so much pleasure ever since.
Curious and openminded, I will listen attentively to you. I will share my insights carefully but clearly and with empathy. Together we will explore new ways to express your views and communicate your needs. It is my firm belief that this will make you a happier person. I am immensely interested in why people do what they do, where we come from, philosophy, the universe, biology and the essence of being. If I could, I would make everyone in the world a happy person.
Does the above appeal to you and would you like to know more, then please send me a short note. Include your request and email/phone number, and I will contact you, free of charge, for further information and/or a personal introduction.
Looking forward to meeting you, Kind Regards,
Helen van Reenen
Phone: +31 6 15052672