Hungarian vs. American Business Style

When it comes to business I don’t mess around. If I’m asking you for something, I try to make sure I have all my questions lined up, that I’m clear on what I want, and that I’m not taking up too much of your time. We all have other things to attend to. This is mutual respect. A courtesy, consideration, something Joan Collins said already thirteen years ago was on the decline. I also keep my phone off (unless there’s a dire emergency, in which case I mention this early on). All of which is not being mentioned how great I am. It’s simply common courtesy, part of the rules we all follow.

Americans are go-getters, see no problem in tooting their own horn. Hungarians are more phlegmatic. They want you to come to them, so that you see how great they are. Finns operate from a vantage point of I couldn’t possibly be (as great as they think I am), Hungarians know that they are (even better), but it’s not for them to make that fact known. That no one takes any – or at least enough – notice of them is part of what gets them so mad. At themselves, at the world, and especially at whichever group they perceive as being below them (usually, but not exclusively, the Jews, the Roma, (Liberal-)Democrats, and more currently assorted migrants with darker skin tones and “the wrong kind of faith”).

Eastern Europeans (and remember, I have the blood of that other country running through my veins as well) expect you to bow to them once they’ve gotten their education. No postgrad would do a lowly activity they consider beneath them, such as making a food run, or throwing on the kettle. They expect to be promoted straight away, to the top tier jobs, without working their way up.

I think I mentioned the lovely student in an earlier post who droned on for 3×90 minutes, and tacked on another 45 minutes when we were each supposed to be giving 20-minute presentations. Him being from Poland the German teacher didn’t want to say anything and let him drone on and on. Though, of course this type of arrogance, and expecting to be catered to on account of your studies is not just confined to one reason or country. Of course, one could argue that there is a certain arrogance inherent to this post as well, which is of course your right.

To return to the subject at hand, I’m in the middle of doing my work. My phone rings, and I pick up. I’m flying solo today, so it’s nice to break up the monotony of the day. Which is the only reason I pick up. Normally I ignore and then send an SMS. Or the caller does.

HB: Hello

Caller: Hello (in Hungarian)


HB: Can I help you?

C: In looking for Helsinki Budapest.

HB: Speaking (correction of name)

Silence. A very long one. The voice sounds middle-aged, so this is not some clueless young buck.

HB: How can I help you?

C: I don’t know.


HB: Yes?

C: I have your name written down on a piece of paper, but I don’t know why.

I say nothing. Even though I hate to admit it, the old adage of you can take the girl out of Eastern Europe, but you can’t take Eastern Europe out of the girl is too true at times. While I have no problem discussing relationships or business in a trusted environment, even with strangers (as long as I can see their face it’s fine), if the other person is not forthcoming, I clam up, on purpose. They called me. It’s not my job to figure out what they want. I didn’t grow up in these parts, but my parents conveyed enough. Yet, I’m the one who will judge others.



  1. […] I cut him off while he’s still talking, to tell him that I couldn’t possibly be less interested. In a nice voice. Not just in a nice voice for me, but generally speaking. He waits. Because even though he’s the one desiring information I’m the one who has to do all the work. Reminiscent of that other time I got a “business call” from a Hungarian male. […]


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