Apparently I'm Dutch and I Didn't Even Know it: The Android's Guide to Bespreekbaarheid

The Dutch have a term called 'bespreekbaarheid.' It's the belief that you can be straightforward and direct when talking about anything. Anything, with anyone. From life, death, business, romance and divorce, health and even mental health, or any topic you might discuss with a close loved one, or even someone you just met at work for the first time. The need to sugar-coat things and skirt around what you really mean only impedes the flow of honest communication and leaves openings for misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

I prefer to be blunt with people. Apparently, I was just being Dutch. Blunt doesn't mean aggressive. It means being willing to be vulnerable and honest, about the good and the bad parts of life. I can share my achievements and my failures. I can revel in my friends' achievements and mourn along with them in their failures, and I can tell them honestly if they're hurting me, others, or even themselves. If I ask you how you are doing and you just say fine, I don't get to know the real you, and I can't be there for you. People love to filter out the negative parts of our lives, to avoid the pain of shame and failure, and we sometimes even filter the positive parts of our lives to avoid sounding boastful. But all that filter does, online and in real life, is build a wall of isolation, where we don't feel like other people truly know us. While I say I revel in my friends' achievements, I mean that about even people I just met or barely know. As a bonus to this take on conversations, I find when I am most blunt and honest with people, my social anxiety is at its weakest. It doesn't fix it, but it is one of the many tools I have learned to use over recent years to push through the anxiety. A lot of social anxiety, in my opinion, comes from people feeling like they need to hide their true selves. Taking off that filter can be freeing. Just today, I met a coworker in town for a work conference from out of state. We started chatting about different things, including our professional and personal backgrounds, and my recent divorce in December came up. He offered condolences, as most people do, and I assured him congratulations were in order. I could have kept it to myself, but I'm not ashamed of it. I'm happier because of it. It was hard, but now that it's over life is starting to have some upswings. To clarify, I mention it, but I don't rant and rave about it or even talk about it more than a sentence or two. I understand no one wants to know the intimate details. But people that know it can understand where I am coming from. Some people seem to think I should have shame, and I should keep it to myself, but those are the exact people I want nothing to do with. Those people are uncomfortable with emotions, and honesty. Thankfully, the more blunt and honest you are, the more those people will avoid you. It's a win-win. Bespreekbarheid and be happy!


  1. Me, too! I fine the whole "Hi, how are you?" greeting useless word vomit because everyone answers "fine" and they're likely not actually fine. And yet it's impolite to not ask. I'd much rather skip the whole "pleasantries" and get straight to the meat of the conversation. Get more said and more meaningful things said.


Post a Comment