Hungarian Culture

Communication

Verbal

  • Communication Style: Hungarians often express themselves with emotion and passion. They will usually use stories, anecdotes and jokes to prove their points in the conversation. They may also raise their voice when conversing with others since there is a tendency for people to talk all at once. Hungarians tend to share their innermost thoughts and may be suspicious of people who are reticent.
  • Direct Communication: Hungarians tend to be . They will freely express their opinion or disagreement. It also is not uncommon for Hungarians to ask personal questions early on in the conversation. At times, this can come across as blunt, but it is not ill-intended.
  • Criticism: At times, Hungarians may be blunt or offer unsolicited criticism. However, avoid criticising your Hungarian counterpart in public or in front of someone of higher social status. Hungarians are quite sensitive to embarrassment and may find this humiliating. 
  • Discontent: Hungarians rarely hide their discontent. For example, the question “how are you?” often elicits a response of discontentment, such as “bad”.
  • Formality: In Hungary, there are different forms of expression that indicate varying levels of courtesy and formality. The polite form of speech is to address people in the formal form of ‘you’ (known as ‘ön’). The informal address known as ‘te’ is considered disrespectful when first meeting someone or of someone with authority (such as a police officer). ‘Te’ is only appropriate with one’s friends or family.


Non-Verbal

  • Physical Contact: While Hungarians are often quite emotional people, they tend not to show much affection in public. However, this varies depending on age group. For example, the younger generation is more inclined to show affection such as hugging, while elders are not. There is also a difference between genders. For example, males tend not to touch each other while female friends will sometimes hold hands or lock arms. Family and close friends may touch each other, regardless of gender.
  • Personal Space: Hungarians generally keep over an arm’s length of personal space. The distance may be greater when speaking with strangers. It is best to observe each person’s preference for personal space and adjust accordingly.
  • Eye Contact: Hungarians tend to hold eye contact. Making eye contact is thought to be a sign of sincerity while refusing to make eye contact is often considered a sign of dishonesty.
  • Pointing: If a Hungarian needs to point something out, they will often flick their finger, quickly drawing it back to them. They may also flick their head and eyes in the direction that they want you to look.

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