Have you ever been in a situation where a Dutch person makes a faux pas, you are cringing and wishing you were anywhere else she doesn’t seem the slightest bit bothered (or even have noticed that she has said something ‘inappropriate’)?
So, is there something to it? Do the Dutch get embarrassed? Yes, of course they do. But quite often situations that might embarrass those from other societies don’t always cause that rush of blood to the face in a Dutch person.
Is it something in the DNA? Is it in the cheese? Is Dutch skin measurably thicker? It’s nothing quite that complicated, and very often comes simply down to culture. The Dutch, in general, are direct (you may have noticed). They have an opinion and aren’t afraid to share it, whether asked for or not. They value honesty; being honest is a mark of respect and the comment in question (usually) isn’t intended personally. And whilst some of us would at times maybe prefer a little less honesty or the odd white lie to the feeling of being bulldozed by truthfulness, the Dutch may not see the behaviour as inappropriate thus there is no cause for embarrassment if they get it ‘wrong’.
Similarly, if we take the work environment and look at what can happen there. Imagine that you have produced a report that is substandard, if someone criticises that report you may take it as a criticism on you as a person. After all you were responsible for producing it. In many countries feedback is seen as (worst case) failure and (best case) admission that you need help with something, therefore receiving it can be embarrassing, especially if there are others present. However in the Dutch culture it is viewed differently; feedback does not have such a negative connotation. It is seen as a way of bettering yourself, of been given the chance for improvement. Many people won’t give feedback unless they think that you can actually do something with it. It’s therefore seen as something positive, so there’s no need to be embarrassed by it.
So what do the Dutch get embarrassed about? Well that's another story, let's leave it for another day :-)