- Dutch business people take punctuality seriously. If you are running late, call your Dutch counterpart(s) in advance to let them know.
- Shake hands with everyone in the room during introductions.
- A small amount of social conversation may begin the meeting, but expect the Dutch to get down to business very quickly.
- The Dutch do not like to waste time during meetings, so expect agendas to be full and well-structured in order to maximise progress in the time given.
- Initial meetings will likely be formal and serve the purpose of determining familiarity and trustworthiness. They will be less concerned in getting to know you personally and more interested in your credentials, but this formality usually relaxes as negotiations progress.
- When discussing business, make sure to present facts and evidence to back up your claims. The Dutch are wary of enterprises that present proposals without substantial reason and evidence to support them.
- While the Dutch move through points quickly during meetings, negotiations only reach a conclusion after full discussion and debate has taken place and all necessary points have been covered. This means that they sometimes tend to over-analyse things as they endeavour to be as comprehensive as possible. If discussion has not been all-inclusive, structured and detailed, a decision will not be made and it will be returned to during the next meeting. These ‘Dutch debates’ can seem fastidious and overdrawn, so try to be patient with the process and understand their concerns.
- Choices are based on rationale, so appealing to their emotions will not advance negations and is instead likely to be frowned upon.
- Although the Dutch are good listeners, you may find that their experience and confidence in their own ability can sometimes prevent them from being easily persuaded.
- The Dutch sometimes prefer to have luncheon meetings that can last up to three hours as opposed to meetings in the office.
Task Oriented over Relationship Oriented
The Dutch do not feel necessity to build personal relationships before doing business, so business relationships are often kept formal. They will be more interested in your experience, credentials and the longevity of your company. To many Dutch, business is strictly professional and holds no association with one’s personal life.
As a part of this business-only mindset, they tend to find excessively polite language and customs to be unnecessary and even obstructive to whatever task is at hand. This is not to say that their own behaviour is rude. While they are still courteous, they often arrive straight to their point without euphemism. In the same way, a Dutch person is likely to openly disagree with you and point out your errors instead of speaking ambiguously for the sake of diplomacy and politeness. From their standpoint, softening one’s words only obscures their meaning and hinders the process of negotiating.
Despite this strictly-business approach, they are open to cultivating business friendships—especially in the long term, as it is recognised that cordial relationships improve productivity and progress. They enjoy building rapport as long as it does not negatively affect business. Feel free to develop a friendship with your Dutch counterpart, but consider that overly personal questions can still be interpreted as intrusive.
- In Dutch business culture, one gains authority by their education, experience and position. Hierarchies exist to serve organisational effectiveness. However, managers are not necessarily seen as superiors, rather employees with different responsibilities.
- The Dutch do not reserve decision-making for exclusive senior executives. Decisions are reached after a long consultation and group consensus has been made with all people involved.
- One doing business with the Dutch should keep their egalitarian values in mind; appealing to superiority of status or position will be frowned upon and unappreciated. Instead, goals that aim for mutual gain and fair outcomes will get the most traction.
- Cutting corners is not appreciated as the Dutch value quality assurance.
- They usually pitch the offer that they believe to be fairest from the beginning.
- The Dutch love debating and do not take criticism personally and people are constantly free to contribute their ideas. Negating opinions will not affect business relationships. Having taken these things in mind, avoid taking personal offence if your own idea is criticised.
- Displays of passionate emotion, exaggerations or promises that sound too good to be true are likely to make them hesitant or suspicious of doing business with you.
- The Dutch are frugal and do not like to spend frivolously. Therefore, they may need some convincing to make big investments.
- They do not like to feel gullible and often show their skepticism by testing your honesty during meetings.
- Appeal to reason by using evidence. Concrete facts alone can prove your reliability and honesty to them.
- On the Corruption Perception Index (2016), the Netherlands ranks 8th out of 176 countries, receiving a score of 83 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector is relatively clean from corruption.