5 things the Dutch can learn from the British

Sometimes, life can be like an Albert Heijn Allerhande Box, disappointing. That rather ambiguous opening statement has absolutely nothing to do with today’s post. The Dutch Review recently published an article called “5 personality traits that the Brits should learn from the Dutch”.  I must say that I don’t agree with a single point made in that post which is why I’ve decided to write a response with five things that the Dutch can learn from the British.

I do hope that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gets to read this. Perhaps he can include some of my ideas in his next ‘doe normaal’ letter to Dutch citizens.

The things I do for my readers!

1. Things the Dutch can learn from the British

Keep your opinions to yourself!

A lot of Dutch people suffer from verbal incontinence. They simply can’t resist telling everyone what they think about every subject under the sun. They remind me of young kids, there’s no filter at all. They’ll just shoot their mouths off with unsolicited advice and opinions. I put this down to the general lack of casual violence in Dutch society. In the UK, if you were to give a relative stranger unwanted opinions about their weight, hairstyle, relationship, culture or accent, you would end up on the receiving end of a slap, punch or worse.  There’s nothing ‘refreshing’ about this personality trait. It’s not direct, it’s absolutely rude.

2. Embrace your bigotry

Instead of pretending to be tolerant, learn from the British and embrace your latent, passive-aggressive bigotry. The Brits don’t pretend to be tolerant. 52% of them voted to leave the EU due to a very public and openly discussed dislike of Eastern European immigrants. In the Netherlands, you have a number of liberal laws for prostitution and gay marriage. Somehow this has been confused with the Dutch being tolerant which is a huge misunderstanding.

  • 1,372,941 people voted for the PVV. In fact, they were the second largest party in the 2017 Dutch elections. This is a party that is anti-Muslim and wishes to stop all immigration from non-western countries.
  • The increasing popularity of the FvD a party that is anti-race mixing, and believes that black people have lower IQ’s than whites
  • Blackface in the form of Zwarte Piet is aggressively defended, often with overt racism and death threats against those that dare criticise this much loved Dutch tradition.
  • The Netherlands is number two in Europe when it comes to unemployment amongst people with a non-western background
  • General criticism of Expats who are being blamed for causing high property prices in Amsterdam
  • The difficulty non-Dutch students have finding accommodation due to lots of ads stating “NO INTERNATIONALS”.

Instead of denying your intolerance, I say learn from the British and embrace it. It’s fine, seriously, just be open and admit that some of you don’t like non-western immigrants and people from Eastern Europe in your country and would prefer that all immigrants (expats or not) speak Dutch from the moment they arrive in the country. Doe maar!


3. Dress for the occasion

Yes, we know that the Dutch like dressing to be comfortable, and that love of denim is the most widely practised religion in the Netherlands. They could, however, learn a lot from the British when it comes to dressing for the occasion. There are times when a pair of white sneakers and jeans are just not suitable. In the UK people still understand that when attending weddings, or dining in fine restaurants that arriving dressed as if you’re about to plant tulips in an allotment just won’t do.

A Dutchman on his way to a wedding


Things the Dutch can learn from the British

Brits always make an effort for weddings

4. Learn to apologize

To say ‘sorry’ is not a sign of weakness. If you cycle through a red light, instead of screaming and swearing at the pedestrians who legally had the right of way, simply say ‘sorry’. It’s really not that difficult. Learn from the British. Yes, we often overdo it and apologise far too often, but that’s preferable to having people walk or cycle into you without a word of apology. A simply sorry goes a long way. It’s called civilised behaviour.



5. Stop being so thin-skinned

One thing that we Brits love is laughing at ourselves and our culture. Just watch Little Britain or other comedy classics such as Fawlty Towers or Dad’s Army. There’s a long tradition in British humour of joking about our own culture.


I read a lot of Dutch social media pages. The Dutch are quite happy to make sweeping generalisations about other countries and cultures. But god forbid that a foreigner says anything that is not complimentary about the Dutch or their culture and they experience a complete sense of humour failure. Something the Dutch can learn from the British is to use sarcasm and humour instead of wishing people cancer and sending death threats. It’s much better for the blood pressure.

How the Dutch deal with criticism of any aspect of their culture


No pedestrians were hurt during the writing of this post.


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