You might have noticed that the Dutch are quite straightforward in what they are saying. This well-known directness has given the Dutch the characteristic of being rude, blunt, inconsiderate or whatever you might like to call it. Often, however, it is not meant to be rude; it is just that they express their opinions directly and value others for speaking their mind. This includes asking friends for favors but also discussing that pay rise with your boss or talking about sensitive topics such as religion, drugs or politics. Besides, whereas people from other countries might ponder and fidget their way into asking a friend or a colleague for a favor, the Dutch pride themselves in directly asking for what they want.
Let me demonstrate this with the following example. Once your reporter was in a conversation with a Mexican guy, a Brazilian girl and two Dutchies, the conversation revolved around asking a friend to borrow their jeans. Us Dutchies said that we would ask or text our friend directly whether we could borrow the jeans. The friend either says yes or no and it’s no big deal. The only point of friction might be that if you don’t return the jeans in time, or ruin it, they might tell you off.
The two others were horrified at this thought and considered it to be way too soon to ask for such thing right at the beginning of the conversation. Then they went on explaining how they would tackle this in their home countries; both said that you usually ask first how your friend is doing, how school is going, how life at home is with the family, whether he likes the food at home, the names of the new kittens and so on. And finally, after a long conversation about all these things you don’t even care about that much, you would slip in between whether you could borrow the jeans. In that way you’ve showed your friend that you care about more than just their clothing. If the answer is no, it is packaged in the nicest words, most elaborately convincing you how it is not ideal to wear the jeans, that it can be quite tight or the color doesn’t match your regular clothing style and whatnot.
Both manners are ways in which you can try and borrow someone’s jeans or to get someone to do something for you. The Dutch are rather straightforward in saying what they want or don’t want. For them it shows honesty and efficiency (considering our love for planning and punctuality) but it will, never be a personal attack (at least most times). For the Dutchies amongst you reading this, if you want something done abroad, you might need to come up with elaborate questions to ask and you will need a good deal of patience! For the foreigners amongst you, just say what you want and you most likely will get away with it in Holland!