5 personality traits that the Brits should learn from the Dutch

What should the Brits learn from the Dutch? We’d never generalise, but the stereotypes do come from somewhere. Although it can’t be applied to all of us, a lot of us will find that we can all share these traits in some way or another. We can all learn a thing or two about how other nationalities do it differently (and sometimes even better). Here’s 5 traits that the Brits should learn from the Dutch (coming from a Brit).

“I’m sorry” – for the millionth time (cause I don’t want to offend you)

(After we posted this the epic Amsterdam Shallowman published his article on what the Dutch could learn from the Brits, for those Brits that were already fuming when they started reading this article)

Brits should learn from the Dutch: be straight with people

The debate continues on whether the Dutch forwardness is considered ‘rude’, but reality, in some cases it’s needed. The Brits have a tendency to skirt around the issue at hand. Someone asks you if you like the dinner they made you. “It’s gorgeous” you say, when really you think it tastes horrible. You don’t have to be rude about it, but say something like “thanks, but it’s not to my taste” wouldn’t go amiss. Outright lying, to to be polite just means that you’re going to have that same dinner served to you over and over and every time you’re going to have to wriggle your way out of eating it again. Practical? No. Polite? Kind of, but you did lie (we’ve all been there).

Boss asks you if you can work a certain day? “Sure” you say, when really you mean “no”, out of fear of looking difficult (I don’t do this, I promise). The boss would rather you were honest, rather than you bailing out or spending the whole day miserable because it was too difficult to work that day. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Your friend asks if you want to go out for the day. You’re too tired and don’t want to let her down. So you lie and say you have to attend your friend’s, uncle’s, sister’s cat’s funeral. Why didn’t you just say yes? Or even better, say you’re just tired jeez. You get the jist and I guarantee if we borrowed some more straight-talk from the Dutch, half of this would be avoided. We honestly are the worst nation for making excuses.

Brits should learn from the Dutch: be more stingy

Sometimes us Brits think that spending over a hundred euros on a night out is money worth spent. Sometimes we think that getting a takeaway for the third time in a week is worth it, if it means we don’t have to cook (we are a nation of takeaway-lovers). A lot of us want ease and fun. But being a bit stingy won’t do us any harm, will it? I know for sure that impulse can take over sometimes and we may neglect our money. Do you really need that pointless notepad with a picture of a cute kitten on it that you’ll never use? Can you really afford to pay for your friends meal or are you just being overly polite again? Maybe we should ‘do it Dutch’ a little more often.

To ‘do it Dutch’, you split bills, everything is fair and equal. This may seem overly excessive, but we could learn a thing or two. I know people who have got into debt out of fear of not saying ‘no’ to things or not splitting bills. Again, we get so worked up about what people think of us. I’d much rather brag about an amazing cheap deal I got, rather than how much money I’ve spent. 😉

Don’t do it!

Brits should learn from the Dutch: tone down the ‘sorry’

Of course there is nothing wrong with being polite. The word ‘sorry’ can be one of the most polite words that you can say. Unless you’re British of course, then you say that word for almost everything. I mean, WE say sorry when someone else walks into US!? What on earth is that all about. It’s used so much that it’s essentially a ‘filler’ word in a conversation or something to say if you feel awkward and need to say at least something. The issue with this is that the word starts to lose it’s true meaning and as a result it can seem so insincere.

There’s been some discussion about whether the Dutch say sorry enough, but the Brits are completely the other way and go overboard. ‘Sorry’ can be used in almost every single conversation we have and trust me, we make good use of this. 😉 Sometimes I struggle to work out if we really do mean we are sorry. Maybe we should go more Dutch and say it when it needs to be said!

Brits should learn from the Dutch: chill out

The Brits can be so stressed! Juggling a million things at once, not saying no to anything (in fear of offending someone) and just generally not relaxing. We would all be much happier if we took a little time for ourselves. The Brits work much longer hours than the Dutch and it would be great if that culture was reversed a bit, maybe then we would get our work-life balance in order and be much happier overall. We already know that Dutch children and the population in general is much happier than most of Europe. Why? Less fretting and more quality time. It does help that you have endless beautiful cycle routes and I actually see more sun here than back at home (shocking, I know). Lets practice Niksen or gezelligheid, take a chill pill and try and prevent burn out better.

Brits should learn from the Dutch: less Dutch courage, more actual courage

A lot of us get impostor syndrome rearing it’s ugly head every now and again. The fact of the matter is if we get pushed back, the Brits tend to get all insecure (remember we’re an awkward bunch). As a result, we let those kind of thoughts win. Alcohol usually gives us a helping hand. Even when we write a resume, we worry that selling ourselves makes us ‘stuck up.’ We constantly worry about what people think of us at any given moment. We worry about saying the wrong thing. If we forget someone’s name, we even try and avoid asking, so we are awkwardly trying to skirt round needing to say the person’s name.

In short, we are just awkward and insecure sometimes. After all, we do tend to have a glass of wine or two (or a bottle) and call that a bit of ‘Dutch courage’, why’s that? Throughout history we wanted your confidence! It would be great if we were a little bit less alcoholic for this.



So there you have it, a highly stereotypical, lightly over-dramatised overview of how the Brits would benefit from the Dutch way. You know it’s true though. Let us know what you think the Dutch could learn from the Brits down below. 

* No British people’s egos were hurt during the making of this article. 😉

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 12 February 2018 but was updated for your reading pleasure on 10 December 2019. 

Feature image: Free-Photos/Pixabay. 

Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.



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