Tuesday, December 11, 2007

While you're adjusting to the Dutch...

...remember that the Dutch are also having to adjust to you.

I got this advice during my orientation, and it's always been a good thing for me to remember.  The basics are easy: I take my time, speak clearly, avoid idioms, and check for understanding; fortunately, the Dutch directness ensures that it works both ways.

But it also means that I don't multi-task in meetings that are being conducted in English to accommodate me, and that I try to let people argue in Dutch when they need to among themselves.  (I avoid the temptation to encourage them speak Dutch so that I can multi-task in meetings).

I do wait for them to finish a sentence their own way without jumping in to try to help (I would usually be wrong anyway), although sometimes I suggest a word  when the right one just isn't coming to mind.  And I don't wordsmith slides or documents unless it's destined for a US audience, and even then only in green ink.

More than once, I've found them accommodating the way that I do things, too, so I know we both try.  Sometimes it works easily (entering meetings without a prior written agenda..sorry, I do prepare, but I'm not someone who distributes agendas), and sometimes with difficulty (closing a meeting without posting notes with minutes, action items, and assignments...I'm afraid that we rotate having a scribe).

At least it's made for much shorter e-mails both ways...

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