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Business Culture

Greece - Business Culture

Business relationships in Greece are built on familiarity and trust, and Greeks prefer to do business face to face. Greek society is very family-oriented; many companies are family-run and nepotism is acceptable here. The culture is hierarchical and you should be particularly respectful to anyone older or more senior.

Much relationship-building takes place outside the formal business setting, over lunch, dinners or excursions. However, it is considered discourteous to behave too informally in business until a relationship is well-established. Always use personal titles (Keereeoss for Mr and Keereeah for Mrs) with surnames unless invited to use first names.

Appointments should be made around two weeks in advance, but can sometimes be arranged at short notice. Being a little late for a meeting is acceptable. Working hours vary depending on the time of year; there is a 2-3 hour siesta in the middle of the day in summer.

Business dress is formal, with business suits for men and suits or smart dresses for women. The usual business greeting is a handshake with good eye contact, but close friends usually embrace. Business cards are exchanged at the initial meeting. Although many Greek businesspeople speak English, it may be necessary to arrange for an interpreter. Written materials and business cards should be translated into Greek.

Business is conducted slowly in Greece, and initial meetings are usually just for the purpose of getting to know one another; formal business discussions do not generally take place until at least the third meeting.

The Greeks are skilled negotiators, hard bargaining is normal here and discussions will be lively, often with several people talking at once. You should present them with hard facts and evidence of how they will benefit from doing business with you. Decisions are made at the top of the hierarchy, but take account of the views of others. Contracts usually build in flexibility for change, should circumstances require it.

Honour and respect are very important in Greece, and you should take care not to embarrass anyone or make them lose face, for example by questioning or disputing something they have said. You should never hold your hand up to someone's face with the palm open as this is offensive.

It is acceptable to give small business gifts to your hosts, but inappropriate to give anything with your company logo.

Read more about this country

Information courtesy of Carol Palioudaki, author of The Cool Guide to Living in Crete, available at www.livingincrete.net

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