A country is often known for its unique culture. Being able to recognize behavioral patterns from your own country is usually straightforward. It gets more complicated when people want to know the typical characteristics of citizens from different countries. This is why I will explain some typical Dutch characteristics in this article, and answer the question "what are the Dutch like?".
The Dutch are known to be very direct and opinionated, generally happy, realistic, punctual, and greedy. Besides, the Dutch really like to split bills, have an early dinner, and they love to complain.
Even though every person is unique, Dutch people seem to have common behavioral patterns that stand out. It is not for nothing that there is a famous dutch saying that when directly translated says: When you act 'normal' your behavior is crazy enough.
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As described above, it is always hard to explain what a typical citizen of a different country is like. Being born in the Netherlands and being around Dutch people my entire life has given me somewhat of an idea of what makes a "Dutchie" an authentic Dutch person. Here is a list of typical Dutch character traits to give you a good idea of what the Dutch are really like.
Dutch people are known for being very direct. They don’t like small talk or beating around the bush. What you see is what you get when it comes to the dutch. When someone asks you for your opinion, they will be honest and tell you their genuine opinions.
In many countries and cultures, this isn’t the case. They rather say something nice than give them their genuine opinions. That is why some people think that dutch people can come off as being rude or harsh. The big question is, though, is not telling the truth not rude as well?
In general, the Dutch are very happy people. In a recent study, they were ranked the fifth happiest people on earth. You can notice this because people are generally smiling or seem to be happy when you walk in a city or town. It is believed that the dutch are happy because they have it relatively good when you compare it to other countries.
There is enough work, enough homes, and enough food to feed everyone. There is a support system in the Netherlands that helps citizens that can’t take care of themselves. That is why most Dutch citizens consider the Netherlands as a good place to live.
In the Netherlands, we also call this being "down to earth". When we say that the Dutch are down to earth, we mean that they are objective rather than subjective. They know what they believe in, and they won’t quickly change their mind. They are not the kind of people that would guide themselves by their emotions. Instead, they look at the facts to base their opinions on.
Being punctual is something Dutch people love. Being late is not appreciated by most of them. When you are running late, it is customary to let the host know. If you don't do this, they will probably comment on you being late once you arrive.
Being five minutes early, on the other hand, is all right. Being really early is often not appreciated either. The Dutch are known for living a hectic and busy lifestyle. If you come really early, the host might not be ready yet or even present.
Initially, it is custom to shake someone's hand and give them three kisses on the cheek when greeting somebody and repeat this ritual when leaving, especially when you know them. If you don't know them, sometimes just giving a hand and introducing yourself is enough.
When you arrive at a party, a Dutch person will shake everyone's hand. If it is somebody's birthday, you wish everyone a happy birthday and name their relation to the birthday boy or girl. For example, when greeting the grandmother, it is customary to say "happy birthday with your grandchild". If you are sitting down when somebody new arrives, it is expected of you to stand up to greet the person.
Because the Netherlands is getting mixed with different cultures and habits, you will see that close friends and relatives will hug each other when saying hello and goodbye instead of the typical handshake and three kisses.
There are many cultures where you can knock on someone's door and get invited in, staying for hours and joining families during meal times. In the Netherlands, this is not the case.
It is expected of a visitor to call or send a message when they want to come over. If the host doesn't have time or doesn't feel like having visitors, they will tell you. If you are invited over, a Dutch person will not be afraid to say to you when they feel like it is time for you to go.
When you decide to drop in uninvited or unannounced, don't be shocked when a Dutch person is too busy and doesn't want visitors. When this happens, they will often offer you the opportunity to make an appointment for a visit for another day.
Another typical Dutch characteristic trade where they are known for is greed. I mentioned above that the Dutch are pretty lucky when it comes to how the Netherlands is set up and everything that the government provides them with.
Even though they realize this themselves, they still feel like they want more. Spending a lot of money on things that don’t seem important is not something you will see the Dutch do very often. When they do, they will probably get a comment from their friends or family that they are spending money on things they don’t need. It is embedded in the culture not to spend if you don’t have the money to back it up.
If you get invited for a dinner night out, don’t expect that the Dutch will pay the bill. When the bill is on the table, they will probably say something in the lines of, "would you be okay to split the bill?” I guess this has to do with the greedy character that I described above.
The Dutch aren’t quickly satisfied with what they have. Spending their money on the entire bill wouldn’t fit into their characters.
In America, giving a tip is not something they think about. It is normal and expected for you to provide a tip after being served. In the Netherlands, this is not the case. Nobody expects you to tip, and that is why a lot of Dutch people don’t do it very often. In the last couple of years, tipping has become more common, though.
In the Netherlands, we are used to eating at a specific time and early in the evening. This time of day gets seen as essential family time. It is custom in the Netherlands to eat your dinner around 6 pm. Both men/husbands and women/wives cook dinner. It is often the one who comes home from work first that is the chef of that evening.
Yes, Dutch people love to complain about things. When you talk to somebody on the street and ask them how it is going, they will always answer that they are doing well. But if you continue your conversation, you will quickly notice that they have something to complain about.
If it isn’t a complaint about their neighbor or colleague, it will be about something else in their day. Weather is a hot topic in the Netherlands and the one subject that many Dutch complain about.
This is a statement I made above. This is a saying that the Dutch use. We aren’t really the kind of people that like to stand out. Instead, we rather mix in with the people around us. Compared to America, they might see us as a herd who all behave in the same way and as dull. The Dutch often see American citizens as extravagant and out there.
When you are at a party, you will notice that the Dutch love to eat. There will be plenty of food but be aware because it is gone except for the last piece before you know it. In the Netherlands, it is seen as rude to eat the last piece that is left. Unless you specifically ask if you can have it.
Thinking outside the box is not something the Dutch are used to doing. They rather stick to the known and to what gets expected of them. I think this has to do with the point that I made above. It is custom in the Netherlands to act normal and not to stand out too much.
When the Dutch succeed at something, they won’t express this to others. Most of the time they will keep this to themselves. In the Netherlands, it is expected of you to work hard and not to show off what you have. If you do this and show your talents, for example, they will see you as a "show off".
People from all around the world are different. Explaining what typical Dutch behavior is like or what Dutch characteristics are, is not easy. After this blog, I hope you have a better insight into what to expect of a Dutch person when coming to the Netherlands. Also, you now have the answer to the question "what are the Dutch like?".