Culture shock Why the Dutch always say what they mean


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Communication between Europeans is much more complicated than between, say, Americans. Obviously Europe has a lot of different languages. But even if everybody speaks the same language, for example English, misunderstandings often result from cultural differences in the way people express themselves. In Germanic cultures people tend to be more direct and frank, say what they mean and mean what they say. From that point of view English speaking countries are not Germanic at all. On the other hand, French speakers are more direct and frank than speakers of other Romans languages. This video illustrates the great cultural gap in communication between Dutch people and British people.

Similarly this video explains how Swedish people hate small talk. That's also something common in Germanic cultures and Finland, although probably most common in Norway, Sweden and Finland. They say in the video that it has to do with the low population density, but I disagree. I grew up in Belgium, one of the most densely populated country in the developed world, and went on to live in many big cities like Berlin, London, Rome or Tokyo, but I've never liked small talk. In fact I've read the exact opposite arguement as to why Americans like to strike up conversation with strangers. They say it is because it is sparsely populated and therefore historically has help people socialise.

I am very Germanic in my communication, being frank, direct and disliking small talk. Yet I spent most of my adult life speaking languages like English and Japanese that expect speakers to be indirect and value small talk. So I think it has nothing to do with the language you speak or the population density where you grew up, but rather a genetic predisposition.

With regard to that video, in my opinion, of course everyone likes to paint themselves as more direct and frank hence honest. It's apparent that those Dutch people like to describe themselves in a certain manner. After all the Dutch are traders in their blood, they must be good at selling.

In my experience, also at work, Germanic cultures are so obsessed with coming across as polite and "politically correct" that I would hardly consider them more direct and frank than the average local. In fact I'm often not sure how to interpret their feedbacks while I can easily see if an Italian feels comfortable or not with the work I'm doing.

Just my two cents here.

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