I’m belgian. dutch is one of the national languages of my country, which we share with our neighboring country: the Netherlands.
Daniela is romanian, and now lives in the Netherlands. she also studied dutch literature and language as a major in university.
during one of our regular chit chats, we started talking about some of the people she gets to work with. within that discussion, I told her how I thought dutch people were pretty direct, sometimes too direct for my taste. belgians are well known for their diplomacy – after all, we have three national languages, two german-based, one latin-based, and we started what is now the European Union. and through my many travels, I’ve learned the art of sugarcoating.
but she couldn’t agree. from her point of view, they were not direct enough. which got us thinking.
how come we couldn’t agree on whether dutch people were direct or not? was it because we haven’t been around the same ones? or was it because it was a relative matter and we were coming at it from different perspectives?
and I realized that, to me, romanians were even more direct than dutch people. so it made sense that, to her, they were not, since they were not as direct as the people from her cultural and native reference.
so when it comes to emotions, opinions, preferences and many other things, they are matters of perspective. most of our thoughts are relative to who we are, where we are, where we come from or grew up. and it is by exposing them to different perspectives that we can better understand our own unconscious biases or implicit stereotypes.
so get out there. travel. meet people. live outside of your comfort zone. survive the awkward. understand better who you are, and how you are different. why others can seem weird. and how you could be even weirder.