It's the little things that make the difference.

It's the little things that make the difference.

Don’t you just love it when your hard work pays off in unexpected ways?

For months now most of my waking time has been spent learning, teaching, and writing about the importance of good manners and how they can help in cross-cultural business dealings. Well, my chickens came home to roost!

My family and I were recently in Hungary where good manners are second nature and everyone we encountered was polite to the point of courtly. While they are polite, I wouldn’t say that older Hungarians are the most gregarious people, at least not with tourists. So when my family and I went into a local bakery in Szentendre we were initially greeted politely but rather coldly. It was a small neighborhood shop, not a ‘café’ and didn’t appear to focus on tourists. We ordered hot beverages and cake. Our lack of Hungarian and the owner’s lack of English weren’t too much of an issue, but outside of ‘coffee’ and ‘tea’, all conversation was limited to pointing and hand signals. The owner filled our order but really didn’t seem too happy about us being there… until I went to the counter to pay. All it took was a simply ‘kosonome’ (thank you) and suddenly she was all smiles. I could tell she was actually delighted!  Well, within minutes we were treated to sample other cakes and with the help of a translation app we were able to discern what the various fillings were and the makings of each item. I believe she was just so pleased that a foreigner had taken the (short) time to learn a simple ‘thank you’ in her language that her whole attitude changed and she was willing to go the extra mile.

My only regret is we didn’t take a picture with the shop owner. 

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