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How foreigners perceive the Dutch

"If anyone here sticks out from the crowd, his head is chopped off. There is always criticism. They always tear people down, good performance is played down. Everyone must be the same, there shouldn't be anyone brilliant" (Argentine)

"British people will not say what they think, except to very good friends. Here in Holland it may happen that someone asks you "Why is your hair so long, why do you wear that tie with that shirt? I wouldn't be surprised if they told me: what an awful tie you're wearing!" ( An observer from Britain)

"Dutch people are nice, but criticise other people too often and too fast. Even when they discuss a match they won, they will constantly talk about the five minutes that things went a bit less. I don't know whether this is because they all know how to do things better, or because they just want to fuss." ( An observer from Iceland )

"the Dutch are very serious and they take everything seriously. You must be careful with jokes, they may easely get it wrong. This serious attitude is good for business, Dutch people are good at that" (Nigeria)

"In other countries conflicts easily escalate. Here stay people calm. The company council, the trade unions and the company directors take decisions in relative harmony" (Switzerland)

"In the Dutch company where I work, I exclaimed: for heaven's sake, let's stop talking about it and DO something!" (An American observer)

There is also a good side, however, as expressed by this Frenchman "Yes, decisionmaking in Holland lasts awfully long, but everybody is heard in the process and once the decision is finally taken, all seem to recognize their point of view in it somehow, so they will implement it."

(The following quotations are from German and Norwegian observers.) "It is striking how there's always a price tag attached here. In Holland people immediately ask what things cost. Whether it is the shortage of prison cells, a new railway line or a UN building in The Hague: how much will it cost? That is a kind of scrooginess you also meet on a small scale."

"There is a certain order in Holland that makes things easier. Society functions well and is also quite stable. If the government changes, nothing else really changes. This order leaves you free to develop yourself the way you want to" (Chili)

"Everything here goes in time. Two o'clock is two o'clock, not earlier, not later. I like it, it is easier. You know how things will go and you can plan your day better" (Zambia)

"Everything is cultivated, overorganised. You can't lose your way, even in a forest here you keep seeing signs like: "The pancake restaurant turn right." (South Africa)

"Even inside the house everything goes on schedule: dinner at six, coffee at seven. In Suriname we eat when we're hungry and we drink when we're thirsty." (Suriname)

"I wouldn't missing the Dutch meeting culture. If you phone someone, unavoidably the answer is: he's in a meeting, can you phone again? That disturbes me right from the beginning of may stay. They only meet here for the sake of meeting. The positive side is that everyone is seeking consensus with one another, although often the opinions are fixed beforehand. It becomes a ritual, sponsored by coffee producers" (Germany)

"People here don't seem to feel much respect for police officers or for people in uniform. They just talk to them or ask questions. It is all very simple and open, very normal" (Argentine)

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