The right language and gestures can be very important in establishing a trusting relationship. During a meeting try to be polite and avoid giving the impression that you are in a hurry. Hungarians like to take their time and evaluate a situation thoroughly before making important decisions.
Hungarians use circulars, memos and written records in their business dealings. They are not very good at answering written communications or returning missed calls. So, in a business context, it is better to invest in constant direct interaction. When business partners meet, they usually shake hands with each other. When a man and a woman meet for business, it is expected that the woman will extend her hand first. In Hungary, it is still considered good manners for a man to open the door for a woman and such like.
Maintaining direct eye contact is when being spoken to is crucial, in both social and business situations. You should maintain a medium interpersonal distance of about an arm’s length between you and a Hungarian partner; any more may be taken as a lack of respect or an expression of mistrust, which could complicate the talks. Verbal communications should always be clear and direct.
Hungarian is the official language of Hungary, but many people speak several languages because of its closeness to many countries. The business language in Hungary is English and most Hungarian business people speak English to different levels of ability. Learning a few words and phrases in Hungarian is a good way to break the ice and impress your host. Hungarians are not generally reserved, but they might give that impression on the first meeting. Nonetheless, once they get familiar with you, they are able to relax and communicate more. If a business relationship develops into a partnership, your Hungarian counterpart might invite you to their home for a meal and to meet the family.
The following table contains phrases that you may find useful when visiting Hungary:
- Hello. Heló.;
- Hi. Heló.;
- Good morning. Jó reggelt.
- Good afternoon. Jó napot.
- Good evening. Jó estét.
- Goodbye. Viszontlátásra.
- Bye. Viszontlátásra.
- See you. Viszontlátásra.
- Good night. Jó éjszakát.
- Have a good day. Kellemes napot kívánok.
- Have a good weekend. Kellemes hétvégét.
- Safe trip. Jó utat.
- Take care. Vigyázzon magára.
- Good luck. Sok szerencsét.
- Have a good holiday. Kellemes nyaralást.
- I don’t speak Hungarian. Nem beszélek magyarul.
- I don’t understand. Nem értem.
- My name is Peter. A nevem Peter.
- Nice to meet you. Örülök, hogy megismerhetem.
- Thank you! Köszönöm!
- Thank you very much! Köszönöm szépen!
- You are welcome! Szívesen!
- Sorry! Sajnálom!
- I’m sorry I’m late! Elnézést a késésért!
- It’s all right, don’t worry! Semmi probléma!
- Excuse me! Elnézést kérek!
- Yes! Igen!
- Of course! Persze!
- OK! OK!
- That’s fine! Redben!
- You’re right! Igaza van!
- That’s great! Nagyszeru!
- No! Nem!
- I think you’re not right! Azt hiszem, nincs igaza!
- It’s impossible! Lehetetlen!
- I don’t agree! Nem értek egyet!
- Cheers! Egészségedre!
- Bless you! Egészségedre!
- Business relationship
Hungary welcomes most international business opportunities. Due to the need to build personal relationships in business, recurrent visits and phone calls are necessary. Indeed, important phases in the development of a business relationship require face-to-face meetings to show respect and build up the necessary level of trust.
Communication is an extremely important aspect of business, and when dealing with people from different backgrounds, the differences between face-to-face, verbal and written communications need to be recognized.
Hungary has a strategic location in central Europe, which makes it perfect as a central distribution point for Europe. The government policies favour the creation and expansion of new companies and support foreign investment. Nevertheless, to start a business in Hungary, it would be advisable to contact one of the Hungarian business development centres or an international advisor for assistance. A good opportunity for direct meetings with business companies is participation in business fairs, exhibitions or conferences. The most significant national fair in Hungary is the Budapest National Fair, which takes place annually (http://www.bnv.hu)
The Hungarian Convention Bureau provides a great deal of information and assistance with planning meetings and conventions: http://www.hcb.hu/english.
Once a potential business partner has been selected, it is best to approach them using a written form of communication (fax or letter) to avoid possible language barriers and miscommunications. You should express your preference concerning the language in which you would like to communicate, and mention whether or not you speak Hungarian. Email is frequently used for everyday business communications, but any important documents are exchanged on paper and many companies still use a fax to communicate.
For further information: http://www.filolog.com/crosscultureLanguageofbusiness.html
Hungarian surnames normally precede first names, so pay attention when addressing your Hungarian business partner. The right way to address a Hungarian man is ‘Mr’ followed by the family name. If you are unsure whether your female business partner is married or not, then call her ‘Miss’ with the family name or employ the increasingly popular Ms form. However, many Hungarians, especially those working in international settings or for companies dealing internationally, change the format of their names on their business cards to the style preferred by their international partners. Academic titles are rarely used and the only exceptions are the medical and legal sectors. However, the title of Doctor is not expected to be used when talking (e.g. Dr. Kovacs Janos). One can encounter three different ways of addressing married Hungarian women. For example: Dr. Molnár Arpád (man) marries Dr. Timár Andrea (woman). So, she might be addressed Dr. Molnár Andrea, Dr. Molnár Árpádné or Dr. Molnárné Timár Andrea.