poniedziałek, 18 lutego 2013

Dutchman's Anatomy: license for honesty

- If you're talking with a stranger in a train or at the bus stop, what are you usually talking about? - asked our teacher.
- Every time it happens to me I always feel like I'm giving an interview - answered a friend from Brazil.
- Oh really? Why is that so?
- 'Cause whenever I start talking, people start asking questions "Where are you from? What are you doing here? Do you like Holland?" and so on. And sometimes they're asking about too private stuff!

That's true... I experienced it myself. On one hand it's even nice and friendly, but than on the other hand it can be really insolent, especially when the Dutch person is attacking you with thousands of questions about your private life. Once an older man misunderstood what I said and he was convinced that I have... a girlfriend. He got really enthusiastic about it and even more curious (though he was already a bit nosy) so I had to explain, that he got it wrong and in fact I'm very boring and traditional. That I live in a relationship with a man. He was a bit disappointed...

There's an expression in the Netherlands "meteen met de deur in huis vallen" (to get to the house straight away with the door) and it's perfectly describing the mentality of the people of this country. They don't like small talks, unnecessary politeness or mincing words. They just ask directly and they don't wonder if it would be inappropiate in another culture or not. Time is money and as we know the Dutch are not wasteful, so they go straight to the point. It's the same with criticizing and giving advices, which (especially when not asked) always seem to be for me and my girlfriends a bit too mean, too critical or too rude. And guys later wonder why are we getting angry or offended. Simple: we were not prepared for such a blow!

When you're visiting a dutch house do not even expect that the host is gonna ask you twice if you want some coffee/tea/cake. No is no! If you said it in a first place, for him/her it's a clear sign that you DON'T WANT! They don't really get the idea of refusing "cause I don't want to look too greedy/unmannerly". After all why would you say "no" if you think "yes". My friend Anna had to learn this fast when she met her husband. She used to modestly say "no, thanks..." (it's a weird polish thing to do) and than was startled seeing him "insolently" buying food only for himself and eating in her company. Well, now she knows ;)

Does this mean that the Dutch are nosy, rude and they are talking about everything with everyone? Don't they have any taboos?  Of course they do! There are things and situations when silence is golden. It would be considered inappropriate it you'd for example ask your colleague how big is his salary or tell somebody's else child to behave. You also don't have to worry much that someone is gonna make a remark, that you gained weight. Unless it's your family or a very close friend.    Czy znaczy to zatem, że Holendrzy są wścibscy, bezczelni i rozmawiają z każdym, na każdy temat? Czy oni nie znają słowa tabu? Bynajmniej nie. Są sprawy i sytuacje, w których mowa jest srebrem, a milczenie złotem. Za niegrzeczne byłoby uznane np. zapytanie kolegi z pracy ile zarabia, albo zwrócenie uwagi cudzemu dziecku, które rozrabia. Nie trzeba się też obawiać, że ktoś nam wytknie, że przytyliśmy. No chyba że łączą nas bliskie, przyjacielskie relacje. Koniec końców, może i Holendrzy są bardziej otwarci i bezpośredni, ale gdzieś tam głęboko, wcale aż tak bardzo się nie różnimy. 

1 komentarz:

  1. haha! i thought it only applies to a lady.. when she say NO.. she really mean YES. That's wat Jos found out about me. I also say No.. but deep in me was Yes and I get upset when he don't get it. :D


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