𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘂𝘀𝗲𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗶𝘀 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗘𝘅𝗲𝗰𝘂𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲𝘀?
𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗗𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗔. 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗻, 𝗖𝗘𝗢 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝗶𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘀 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗿𝘆
Sitting on the rooftop terrace of Siemens’
offices in Budapest, I asked President and CEO Dale A. Martin how
useful it is for him as an executive that he speaks Hungarian. He should
know, given that almost all of the 3,800 employees at Siemens Hungary
Mr. Martin spoke basic Hungarian already at an early age, since three of his grandparents were Hungarian. However, it required quite an effort to reach a higher level – and the patience of his wife and sons, as well as his colleagues. Today, he mostly speaks Hungarian at work, while usually writing in German or English.
𝗗𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗸 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗶𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻?
It certainly does. Speaking Hungarian has at least two advantages, a practical and a “soft” one.
The practical advantage is to understand the local news and economic environment, to be able to understand and “feel” the conversations of employees without a translator, saving time and preventing misunderstandings.
The soft advantage is the ability to address Hungarians in their mother tongue. Since Hungarian is a difficult language, people often go the extra mile when you try to speak their language. This creates a positive atmosphere in the workplace.
𝗗𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗮 𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗲𝘅𝗲𝗰𝘂𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻?
Once an employee noticed a serious issue that required action. However, he did not feel he could address the issue with his superior, who only spoke German and English. The lack of a mutual language and the resulting distance and divide prevented the employee from speaking up. Fortunately, I happened to talk to the employee and was able to deal with it.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗶𝗴𝗴𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲?
Both cultures have values that each should learn from. A strength of Hungarian working culture is an independent creativeness, while Germans tend to be more process-oriented. If you combine the Hungarian creativity with German “orderliness”, you can achieve excellent results.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗲𝗶𝗴𝗻 𝗲𝘅𝗲𝗰𝘂𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄?
„Köszönöm szépen“ (“Thank you very much“) and „kérem szépen“ („please“) are expressions that executives in any country should know in the local language.