While living and working in Amsterdam over the course of a month, I’ve found that this is the word that best encompasses the Dutch culture. It may very well be the most useful word to learn while in the Netherlands, as it has the widest application.
Say it with me now. Heh-SELL-ick Clear your throat while you roll that first syllable and you might just get it right.
Gezellig is a term you will hear often and is used in a wide variety of contexts. It does not have one direct literal English translation. It’s less of a precise word, and more of a feeling or national mindset. It can mean cozy, social, pleasant, relaxing, convivial, quaint, or simply familiar. Gezelligheid might just be the new Dutch religion; it is certainly a common spirit.
Without treading into stereotype territory, I believe it is accurate to say that the Dutch can be known for their blunt literal verbal communication, perhaps Gezelligheid is so important as a counterbalance to this.
So how do you implement this while working here? Keep your manner gezellig. It’s about having an open atmosphere at work, being social & having a common spirit.
In group settings, there is an emphasis on keeping things relaxed, comfortable & connected. When you are together, you are one party of a whole social scene and maintaining a comfortable and nice atmosphere is essential. It even translates into a physical environment of coziness & belonging.
I found that I had to conscientiously table my New York / German driven focus, & leave that for my behind-the-scenes production work.
Best to loosen things up and keep it gezellig!