friendliness

Cancellations in formal situations

Posted by Samantha on September 05, 2008
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This was very very weird for me. It taught me that Dutch culture is a very direct one.

I was in a course somewhere and the teacher was a resident of London, but had lived most of his life in New York. He had a very odd advise in the situation that you had to cancel a formal appointment. The situation was a follows:

He worked in a company that did lots of usability testing. You then have participants who get a couple of bucks to participate in your research. Although there is a screening, it sometimes happens that a person is not suitable for the task. It could happen that for the research, people were not allowed to wear glasses, for example, (because the research is about lenses) so if a person walkes in wearing glasses, you have to tell him that he is not allowed to participate. (of course this is only an example)

In Holland, we would just be honest and say that something went wrong with the screening, maybe give them their money and there's out of there.

But his advice was really different!!! He told us the things that he'd do to make them go away! Here are some examples:

– tell them there is a fire drill and the building is being evacuated.
– tell them your wife is pregnant and apparently the baby is coming

I was really surprised. Maybe the difference is, that in New York, you have the serious hazard of being kicked in the face when you cancel appointments??? I've been there. The city is less friendly than the rest of the States, I think, but really that bad??? If anybody understands this person's advice, please tell me, because I'm interested…

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Friendliness in bus

Posted by Samantha on September 05, 2008
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When going to my work in the Netherlands by bus, I always thank the busdriver when I get out. A colleague of mine was riding the same bus once, and he was very surprised I did this. He asked me why I did that and seemed to have a hard time understanding why somebody would. For me, it is just a gesture of friendliness.

I was in the United States this summer and my sister (who lives there now) pointed out that people on the bus would ALWAYS take the front exit so they can say goodbye of thank you to the busdriver. This is very inefficient since all the people getting on the bus have to wait until all these micro-conversations are over, but it does embody the friendliness I experienced almost everywhere in the United States, as opposed to the Netherlands. If I could choose, I think I will be happier with this friendly, though less efficient way of interaction in a bus.

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