By: Marc Wessels

You will probably have more business meetings with Dutch colleagues after Brexit. How do you greet each other at a business meeting in the Netherlands? What are do’s and don’ts? How informal can business meetings get?

Shake hands

Whether you’re meeting for the first or the tenth time, if it’s a business meeting you shake hands. This is considered a common and informal business greeting. Hugging and kissing on the cheek are considered highly unusual and inappropriate in the Netherlands. Incidentally, it is also considered rude to sit down without shaking hands first.

Adapt your greeting to the situation

Verbal greetings at business meetings in the Netherlands can take various forms, depending on the situation. If you have never met your conversation partner, ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ are all considered appropriate. These three greetings are neutral and slightly formal. If you know each other a little better, ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’ are fine. The same applies to the end of a meeting. If you have never met your conversation partner, please stick to ‘Goodbye’ or ‘Have a nice day’. If you know each other a little better, a simple ‘bye’ is fine.

Be careful with small talk

Dutch people are generally not very good at small talk. They tend to avoid chit chats about holidays or concerts. This is caused by Dutch directness, as Dutch people prefer to get straight to the point as they believe their time is valuable. If you and your conversation partner are better acquainted, some small talk is considered acceptable. But it is certainly not appropriate when you first meet someone. One question you will probably hear is: ‘Did you have any trouble getting here or was it easy to find?’ Feel free to answer and keep the conversation going. Short conversations about the weather are also quite common.

Relocating to the Netherlands?

Brexit Amsterdam offers translation services and training courses to help you make the transition as smoothly as possible: