Belgium is truly a wonderful city. A place that seems so pleasant and nice, it's almost as if bad things could never happen here. Of course, there's no such place in the world. This country still has its own set of problems just like its neighbors and more. And though it's really generally pleasant here, it won't be if you don't know how to properly act. Belgium has its own set of customs too, and it's imperative that you behave accordingly. From getting invited to dinner to business meetings with your boss, here are some of what you need to know about how to act in Belgium.
Always Practice Cleanliness
You've seen Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, right? Even if you're just looking at it from the internet or on TV, you see how stunning the place is. The beautiful palaces, the nostalgic castles, and the different districts of the city
. It's safe to say that this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And it stays that way because Belgians keep it clean. Cleanliness is extremely important in this country, and they expect you to adhere to that when you're here. So if you have plans to visit or even move to Belgium
, always keep clean, never litter, and pick up after yourself!
Speak Subtlely, Not Directly
You've probably heard that Westerners, as a whole, are pretty straightforward. It's a common stereotype that people from the East are, for lack of a better term, more emotional than those who lived and were brought up in the west. And while there may be proof to that, Belgians are quite unique in this situation. They're not emotional, per se, but rather they're not as direct as many might expect them to be. In fact, they prefer speaking subtlety, considering it as a sign of intelligence. And if you want to be taken seriously in this country, you're better off speaking the same way as well.
Kiss Greetings Are Only Reserved for People You Know
Yes, like the French
and the Italians
, Belgians also kiss people on the cheek as a form of greeting. However, they won't do so to people they've just met. Most of them do not act as how they're portrayed in movies or on TV. During introductions, Belgians will normally go for a brief handshake. You keep it firm for the men while doing it more gently for women. Only when they've gotten to know you a lot better and a lot longer will kissing be involved. And it'll mostly consist of air kisses too. Starting with the left cheek and alternating it three times.
Avoid Being Confrontational
Remember that Belgians prefer subtlety? They also oppose being too confrontational. They find it rude and unnecessary and instead would rather talk things out more peacefully to address any issue. And mind you, these people can talk your ear off too! It's pretty normal for Belgians to engage in long discussions to really answer any problem or conflict that there may be. After all, they're not exactly known as aggressive or violent people. In fact, they're pretty much some of the more peaceful people out there. It's no wonder the crime rate in Brussels
and other Belgian cities are low!
Don't Leave Food On Your Plate
Okay, now let's get into dining etiquette. An important rule to always follow is to never leave food on your plate. Most especially if you're invited to dinner in someone's home. That'll be even more offensive to the host/ess, mostly because it's likely he/she prepared the food him/herself (or paid a ton of money for the catering!). In general, Belgians consider leaving food on your plate as a sign of disrespect, both for those who cooked and prepared the food as well as for the environment. They see it as such a waste so as much as they can, they often eat everything served to them.
Never Forget To Leave A Tip
Though Belgium's job market
is relatively stable now, it's still pretty common for people to start their foray into professional life with service jobs. Working as a waiter/waitress, bartending, and the like. Even those who come from well-off middle-class families will often work in such jobs just to get a few extra Euros. So to help them out, never forget to leave a tip. Unless a service fee was already charged in your bill, leave around a 10%-15% tip for your server. You don't know how much they'll appreciate that! Also, it's common to tip housekeeping and the concierge in hotels in Belgium too.
Know Which Utensil Goes On Which Hand
In countries like Belgium, it's not just the food that's important, but also how you eat it. Proper dining etiquette matters a lot in this country, especially in the big cities. Whether you're just out with a date or with some friends or you're in a business lunch, it's imperative that you follow the dining etiquette rules. And the most important of such is knowing which utensil goes on which hand. Here, the right-hand holds the spoon while the left-hand holds the fork. It's also common to mostly use a knife and fork and to only use the spoon when having soup.
How you act in Belgium pretty much defines your stay here. If you don't follow their customs and behave according to their own set of manners, expect to have a pretty unpleasant stay in the country. And that'll be a shame because Belgium is a charming place, after all!
Another proper way to act in Belgium is to get a luxury rental
for your home here. It will really make your stay a lot more pleasant!