Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business In Hungary - Answers & Video

Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business In Hungary

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Cultural Etiquette: Doing Business in Hungary

Hungary is a country located in Central Europe, known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. When doing business in Hungary, it is important to understand and respect the cultural etiquette to build successful relationships and conduct business effectively. This article provides valuable insights into the cultural norms and practices in Hungary, ensuring a smooth and respectful business experience.

Greetings and Introduction

When meeting someone in a business setting, it is customary to greet with a firm handshake, accompanied by direct eye contact and a genuine smile. Hungarians appreciate punctuality, so it is essential to arrive on time for meetings. It is common to address individuals using their last names, followed by their title if applicable. For example, Mr. Kovács or Dr. Nagy. However, after developing a closer relationship, it is acceptable to address someone by their first name.

  • Formal Greetings: Hungarian greetings often include the phrase “Jó napot kívánok,” which means “I wish you a good day.” It is polite to respond with the same phrase or “Köszönöm szépen,” which means “Thank you very much.”
  • Business Cards: Exchanging business cards is customary in Hungary. Ensure that your business card is printed in both English and Hungarian, with the Hungarian side facing the recipient. When receiving a business card, take a moment to examine it before placing it carefully in a business card holder or on the table in front of you.
  • Gift Giving: While not mandatory, gift giving is appreciated in Hungarian business culture. When presenting a gift, it is customary to do so at the end of a meeting or negotiation. Gifts should be of good quality and not overly extravagant. Appropriate gifts include chocolates, wine, or flowers. Avoid giving red flowers, as they are associated with funerals.
  • Language: Hungarian is the official language of Hungary. Although many Hungarians speak English, it is advisable to have important documents and presentations translated into Hungarian to ensure clear communication. Learning a few basic Hungarian phrases, such as greetings and thank you, can also be seen as a sign of respect.

Business Communication

Effective communication is crucial when conducting business in Hungary. Hungarians appreciate directness and expect clear and concise communication. It is important to maintain a professional tone and avoid excessive small talk, especially during initial business meetings.

  • Non-Verbal Communication: Non-verbal cues play a significant role in Hungarian business culture. Maintain good eye contact during conversations to convey attentiveness and trust. Avoid excessive gesturing or touching, as personal space is highly valued.
  • Business Attire: Hungarians generally dress conservatively for business meetings. Men typically wear suits and ties, while women opt for formal business attire. It is advisable to dress professionally, as appearance is considered important in Hungarian business culture.
  • Business Meetings: Meetings in Hungary are often structured and follow a formal agenda. It is essential to be well-prepared, providing detailed information and supporting documents. Engage in active listening and avoid interrupting others during discussions. Meetings may be conducted in a straightforward manner, with open debates and opinions expressed.
  • Negotiations: Hungarian business negotiations can be lengthy, as decision-making processes often involve multiple layers of approval. It is important to be patient and persistent while maintaining professionalism. Avoid aggressive or confrontational tactics, as they may hinder the negotiation process.

Building Relationships

Building strong relationships is key to successful business ventures in Hungary. Hungarians value trust and prefer to work with individuals they know and trust. It is important to invest time in developing personal connections before expecting significant business progress.

  • Socializing: Hungarians often engage in social activities outside of work to build relationships. Accepting invitations to business dinners, cultural events, or social gatherings can help foster connections. Be prepared to engage in conversations about Hungarian culture, history, and current affairs.
  • Networking: Attending industry conferences, trade shows, and business forums can provide valuable networking opportunities in Hungary. Building a strong professional network can open doors to new business partnerships and collaborations.
  • Follow-up: After meetings or negotiations, it is essential to follow up promptly with a summary of the discussion and any agreed-upon action points. Sending a thank-you email or letter is seen as a polite gesture and helps maintain the relationship.

Hungarian Cuisine and Dining Etiquette

Hungarian cuisine is renowned for its rich flavors and hearty dishes. Understanding dining etiquette is crucial when engaging in business meals or entertaining Hungarian business partners.

  • Reservations: When hosting a business meal, it is customary to make reservations in advance. Hungarians appreciate punctuality, so ensure that you arrive on time for the meal.
  • Seating Arrangements: The host typically determines the seating arrangements. The most senior person should be seated at the head of the table, with guests seated in order of importance. Wait to be directed to your seat by the host.
  • Toasting: Toasting is a common practice in Hungarian dining culture. It is customary to maintain eye contact while toasting and clinking glasses with everyone at the table. Avoid crossing arms when clinking glasses, as it is considered bad luck.
  • Eating Etiquette: When dining, it is polite to wait for the host to begin eating before starting your meal. Avoid resting your elbows on the table and keep your hands visible but not placed in your lap. Finish all the food on your plate to show appreciation for the meal.

Business Gift Giving and Acceptance

Gift giving plays a significant role in Hungarian business culture. When giving or receiving gifts, it is important to adhere to certain etiquette guidelines.

  • Gift Selection: When selecting a gift, consider the recipient’s interests and preferences. Quality chocolates, wine, or local handicrafts are popular choices. Avoid overly extravagant gifts, as they may be seen as inappropriate.
  • Gift Presentation: When presenting a gift, offer it with both hands as a sign of respect. Express appreciation and explain the significance of the gift, if applicable.
  • Gift Acceptance: When receiving a gift, accept it graciously with both hands. Show genuine appreciation and thank the giver. It is customary to open the gift in private rather than in front of the giver.


Understanding and respecting Hungarian cultural etiquette is crucial for successful business interactions in Hungary. By familiarizing yourself with the greetings, communication styles, dining etiquette, and gift-giving customs, you can build strong relationships and conduct business effectively. Remember, small gestures of respect can go a long way in establishing trust and fostering fruitful business partnerships in Hungary.

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