Post | March 2019 | Past workshops | 3 min read

19 March 2019 - "The Perception Gap"

Written by Rachele Markle

We teamed up with the Vrijwilligersacademie to bring both Dutch locals and internationals together to discuss common cultural misconceptions and misunderstandings that arise from living side-by-side. The proactive Cathy Delhanty split everyone into small groups with half Dutch half international attendees to rationally discuss some issues in our most practical workshop to date. Be sure to contact Cathy a [email protected] to ask about her new amazing nonprofit Wool For Warmth and what you can do to help. 

Together with the Vrijwilligersacademie we kicked off 2019 with a bang. Thank you to everyone who took time out of their schedules to talk about culture misconceptions today at our first workshop of the year “The Perception Gap” with Cathy Delhanty.

This workshop was extra interactive and special and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all 30 cultures talk amongst one another and discuss misconceptions to find solutions. Split into small groups at tables with half Dutch and half international, attendees were asked to come up with 3 different misunderstandings. These misunderstandings were everything from language barrier situations, the infamous Dutch “mag niet” and being asked very personal questions that, according to your culture, could come off as rude and too inquisitorial. After going around to each table, Cathy then asked for everyone to discuss solutions to these very common “international vs. Dutch” problems. And here is what we found:

Both groups do not mean badly. When talking amongst each other, it was very evident that these misunderstandings were purely that: misunderstandings. The Dutch do not mean to make you feel uncomfortable by asking you where you come from or who you voted for—they simply want to make you feel at ease. The Dutch phrase “mag niet” is translated into English as “not possible,” leading to many confusions and frustrations about not being able to do something. However, the Dutch simply mean that this is not possible one way, but another way it is very much probable and all you need to do is ask.  

All both sides must do is to be involved. Whether it is planning a dinner or deciding which language to speak in, avoid unnecessary tension by asking “what do you mean?” Or by friendly asking, “why?”

This involvement can go a long way. What is amazing is how even though we are all from different cultures (at this workshop we counted 30!) we can, through respectful dialogue, come to solutions together that do not alienate the other. This is especially important after the events of just a few days prior. At the end of the workshop, we gave one white rose to each attendee to symbolize our unity with the victims of the Utrecht tram shooting which happened in 24 October Square at 10:45 a.m. (5:45 a.m ET) Monday March 18. Our hearts go out to their loved ones. 

About the Presenter

Since 2011, Cathy Delhanty has been teaching engineers, entrepreneurs, and technical people how to improve their business networking skills. After years of honing advanced networking techniques as a key business advantage and watching others struggle with business networking, she has developed a networking process called The Networking Workshop. Cathy lectures at top universities, major corporations, and business incubators across Europe. She is a volunteer at UNICEF and Volunteer The Hague. Don’t forget to ask her about her new charity, The Wool for Warmth Challenge, knitting hats and scarves for homeless people in The Netherlands.

Cathy is a Canadian citizen living in Rijswijk with her British husband Patric and their two international, yet Dutch daughters.

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