Talencoach / Dutch Flow Now

Tips to improve your business Dutch fast

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Learning business Dutch doesn't need to be a serious process. Have fun with words and considerably improve your Dutch for business purposes and everyday life. [Contributed by Talencoach / Dutch Flow Now]

Do you already speak some Dutch, but wish to expand your chitchat with locals outside of shops? Then taking your Dutch to a whole new level at work could be the right challenge for you. Leading meetings, giving presentations and having in-depth conversations with your clients will certainly give you more satisfaction - so what are the next steps?

If you are like most people, you may consider a special course in Business Dutch. During the course, you expect to memorise important Dutch business sentences or whole books with office Dutch that will help you come across as professional and competent. But there is a catch: chances are you’ll miss many things, and you’d have to work far harder at the end of the course.

One of the first things you notice after reading language books for business Dutch is that they’re quite serious. It's all aout writing the right - and very formal - Dutch business letter; there is little room for fun and play. Sure, you might think that fun is irrelevant for business Dutch, but a mindset that allows playfulness could help you learn a lot faster.

Know the cultural differences in business Dutch

Here is an important secret: if you truly comprehend how Dutch works, you can learn how to talk about any subject, including business. All you need is to play with words, think in pictures, and understand the cultural nuances to see what happens.

Let’s start with the Dutch word de zaak, which means business, issue, case, affair and matter. When doing business in countries in Asia, for example, you may have to talk a lot about your family first, drink tea and attend several meetings before siging a contract. But the Dutch are a more pragmatic nation. What you do in your private life or your family is niet mijn zaak (not my business). 

Knowing this cultural difference is important as it becomes clear that the main focus of Dutch business is things - not necessarily people. Sure, this could see this as cold, but there is a beauty in it. Do what you want in your free time; if there is business, it's just business! 

Another important adjective is zakelijk, which can be used in a variety of ways: een zakelijk plan is a business plan, for example. It can also mean that you only focus on things, not on people, and suggests that you look at objective facts rather than subjective feelings. If you lead a meeting, you can do it zakelijk, which is to the point and without small talk. But it can also mean business savvy, and that you are very successful in business.

Even business words in Dutch start to make more sense if you start to play with them - suddenly, you'll understand many nuances.

Albert Both: Talencoach

Playing with Dutch words

There are far more words in Dutch, especially in business Dutch, that have subtle or surprising meanings. If you want to lead a meeting, you might want to go for the position of voorzitter. This word literally translater to 'in front sitter' - it is similar to 'chairman', the official English translation.

Another example can be seen with the Dutch word stuur, which is related to steering. Het bestuur is something that steers - or leads - the organisation. So, therefore, bestuur is the directing board.

One of the most importnat things to remember is that Dutch is an extremely pragmatic language. You'll discover funny expressions such as vergadertijger (a 'tiger at meetings', or a person that loves to go to many different meetings) - and when Dutch speakers include other expressions during meetings, you'll understand them more!

A last word of warning — if you’d like to learn more business Dutch, chances are high that you’ll likely only focus on words that seem important for business purposes. But because Dutch is such a vivid language that utilises seemingly unrelated words to create longer ones, many other words that may look unimportant at first will play an important role. Therefore, if you would like to excel at speaking Dutch, make sure that you focus on everything else, too!

To improve your business Dutch faster, click here for a free eBook full of great tips from Talencoach.  

You can also practise your new language skills in a real-life setting by joining free workshops also hosted by Talencoach. Click here for more information or sign up here for a free workshop on Saturday, 28 May, at the 'i am not a tourist' Job Fair for Internationals in Amsterdam.



Contributed by Albert Both, Talencoach

Albert Both


Expat Fair Amsterdam

Whether you’ve lived here for days, months or years, you won’t regret attending the Expat Fair for Internationals. Sunday 8 October 2017, Amsterdam.

Get your FREE tickets and discover more about expat life in the Netherlands.



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