How do you negotiate with people from different cultures? How do you negotiate with people from the Netherlands? To kick off a series about negotiating with cultures from around the world, I’m chatting with Michael Van Keulen (MVK), the Chief Procurement Officer at Coupa Software. We’re focusing on negotiating with Dutch people. Listen to this episode of Negotiations Ninja to learn the steps you can take to negotiate the right way with the Dutch.
Outline of This Episode
- [1:45] Learn more about Michael Van Keulen
- [3:21] The Dutch mindset in negotiations
- [6:59] Why are Dutch people so direct?
- [10:42] How to negotiate with the Dutch
- [13:26] Do the Dutch make decisions quickly?
- [18:34] How to generate rapport with the Dutch
- [22:27] The Dutch likely speak better English than you
- [26:51] Dutch people are open and welcoming
The Dutch mindset in negotiations
The Netherlands is a small country with around 20 million people. The country has always been entrepreneurial. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Netherlands was arguably one of the most powerful countries in the world.
The Dutch have always been merchants and traders. Some of the biggest inventions in the world come out of Holland. Some of the biggest companies are Dutch. That isn’t luck. The Dutch have an entrepreneurial spirit in their DNA.
Michael points out that Dutch people are direct and transparent because of their history. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They provide their perspective and opinion quickly; you must be ready.
Most aren’t trying to be cocky or arrogant. Michael jokes that his wife—who is Brazilian—reminds him constantly that what he said might come off that way. He notes that the perceived arrogance comes from a place of confidence.
Negotiating with Dutch people
With that being said, Dutch people are straightforward and appreciate it when you get to the point. Michael points out that they don’t need a fancy meal, drinks, or “Wining and dining.” You don’t need to be over the top.
If Michael is trying to do business with someone in Southern Europe, he understands that it’s a different culture and different way of doing business. It’s common to build relationships over meals.
But in Holland, Michael doesn’t care about being liked. He wants to be respected for the knowledge and the value that he brings to the table. It’s not personal to him. But in some parts of the world, it’s important to take time to build relationships to drive mutually beneficial business outcomes.
Michael wants to respect the other party. He wants to know if they have something that will accelerate his business objectives. But a trip to the golf course means nothing to him.
Dutch people are comfortable negotiating across cultures
I’ve learned that Dutch people usually speak perfect English—even better than most North Americans. Secondly, they are careful not to leave you out of conversations and speak amongst themselves in Dutch. They’d consider it rude. They’ll have the conversation in front of you, in English, loud enough for you to hear.
Interestingly, Michael shares that 95% of people in Holland communicate in English because they don’t dub their cartoons for kids. Because of this, Dutch children are exposed to numerous languages at a young age, especially English.
Learn more about negotiating with Dutch people in episode #343 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast!
Resources & People Mentioned
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