In today’s world, where globalization is becoming increasingly prominent, it is important to understand how different cultures work and communicate. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom are both countries with a rich history and culture, but there are some notable differences when it comes to the way they work and communicate. I came across a few inspiring videos on YouTube and thought “I should write something about that”. In this article I therefore emphasize these differences in order to gain a better insight into the Dutch and English culture in the workplace.
Dutch and English work cultures exhibit some striking differences. In the Netherlands, an informal work atmosphere prevails, with hierarchy often being less important than in the United Kingdom. Dutch employees are known for their direct communication and openness. They value transparency and honesty, even when it comes to expressing criticism. Everyone is expected to voice their opinions, and equality within the organization is highly valued.
On the other hand, the English workplace is often more formal and hierarchical in nature. There is a clear emphasis on etiquette and politeness. English employees are generally more reserved in expressing their opinions and prefer to avoid conflicts. Decisions are often made by management and relayed to the employees. Compared to Dutch employees, English workers tend to rely more on clear instructions and guidelines.
Communication styles in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom also differ. Dutch people are known for their directness and openness in communication. They prefer a straightforward approach and often avoid the use of convoluted language. Dutch people are also known for their informal communication, even with superiors or higher-ranking colleagues. They approach others in an egalitarian manner and often use first names instead of titles.
On the other hand, English people are often more polite and formal in their communication. They place a high value on politeness and respect, especially when addressing superiors or individuals with higher status. English people are skilled in using indirect language and can provide subtle hints rather than direct statements. This can sometimes lead to misunderstandings between Dutch and English colleagues, as the Dutch are accustomed to communicating in a straightforward manner.
YouTube videos: To get an even better picture of the differences between the Dutch and English culture in the workplace, I also recommend watching the two YouTube videos:
- “What do BRITISH People Think About the DUTCH?” – Hilarious but also sometimes heartwarming reactions from English people about the Netherlands and Dutch culture. Yes “going Dutch” is also discussed.
- “10 Dutch Culture Shocks in the Netherlands | An American’s Perspective” – Dutch directness, housing, racism and much more. These are some of the culture shocks David Wen experienced after living in the Netherlands for almost 4 years.
Although the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are geographically close, there are clear differences between their work and communication cultures. The Dutch have a direct and informal approach, while the English are more polite and formal. Understanding these differences is essential for successful collaboration between Dutch and English professionals. By being open to each other’s cultural values and communication styles, we can work and communicate more effectively, regardless of our background.
To be clear “I am extremely Dutch, even for many Dutch people I am ‘too direct'”