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How to solve conflict situations in the Netherlands?

8 December 2011, 23:24

Many people who have arrived in another country, fall into conflicts with local officials because of cultural differences. We will advise you how to avoid similar situations in the Netherlands.

in the Netherlands, conflicts with local officials, cultural differences

Many people who have arrived in another country, fall into conflicts with local officials because of cultural differences. We will advise you how to avoid similar situations in the Netherlands.

The key to winning a controversy: remaining calm and logical

If you have a clash with a landlord, a housing officer, a lecturer, an immigration official, or any other Dutch person, it will be helpful for you to know how most people in the Netherlands are taught to behave in conflict situations. Probably, this could be rather different from what is customary in country where you're from.

Knowing of differences will save the situation

If you know about cultural traditions of Dutch people, you can avoid that situation gets worse.

You should reailize, that the following recommendations are not a set of rules. As you read them, remember also that you will always run into exceptions.

The Dutch are used to see themselves as trying to be equitable by handling everyone the same. That is why they will quote criteria, regulations and rules — because these apply to everyone equally.

Generally, the Dutch stand against giving any benefits to anyone. They do not rank people in terms of merit. Certain cases might qualify as ‘extra’, but even this will be decided on the basis of common criteria.

Whatever you do, don’t require privileged treatment as being ‘the most needy’, ‘the most mistreated’, ‘the most talented’, or ‘the most anything else’. This will work against you. In place of this, you should to state calm and logical, and in terms of the criteria or rules the person is applying.

Anger - indicator of weakness

In the Netherlands, even someone who is very angry will, at general, try to control that wrath. Swearing, shouting and violent gestures are viewed as signs of faintness or as an attempt at physical deterrence. All such behaviour will weaken your argument in the eyes of the Dutch person.

Equality of full powers

The officers or civil servants you talk to will generally have the authority they need to make decisions. Even if they seem very young, they do not have to get advice from the boss or more senior colleague.

Therefore, if you not agree with something they are telling you, do not ask to see the boss. This will only offend them and make them angry. And the boss would almost clearly back up the staff member and apply exactly the same set of rules.

Instead of this, you should ask about the appeal procedure. And, of course, don’t forget that the woman you are talking to has just as much power as a man in the identical position.

Taboo on bribes

It is not customary in the Netherlands to give a gift to someone who has been useful during doing their job. In fact, most organizations place confines on what employees may accept. Nothing may jeopardize their impartiality when bargaining with clients, suppliers, etc.

Bribes are absolutely taboo, and most Dutch people would be insulted and indignant to be offered one. So if you want to thank someone who has been especially helpful, send them a card or give them something small, and be sure to do it afterward rather than before. The sign of attention will be appreciated.

A large gift, on the other hand, would make the person feel embarrassed, and a gift offered in advance, which they would see as a bribe, could even turn them against you.

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