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Business Culture

Cyprus - Business Culture

Face to face meetings are preferred in Cyprus to written or telephone communication, so you should make frequent visits if conducting business there. Business associations are developed on a personal rather than a company basis and based on trust, and you will often be invited to many lunches, dinners and other social events as well as formal meetings. Although the main languages are Greek and Turkish, many Cypriots speak good English so communications are not usually a problem.

Make appointments in advance, requesting a meeting in writing and confirming it by telephone. Punctuality will be expected, although not necessarily observed by your Cypriot counterparts. Although Cypriots usually dress quite casually, conservative business suits are expected for meetings.

The normal form of greeting in Cyprus is a firm handshake with good eye contact, although Turkish Cypriots may lower their eyes as a sign of respect, and may not wish to shake hands with women.

Since Cyprus is a hierarchical society, communications with senior people should be formal and deferent, but more informal when dealing with people at a similar level as your own.

Cypriots appreciate direct and honest communication, and you should not make exaggerated claims or sell your products too aggressively. Cypriots are skilled negotiators, prepared to drive a hard bargain, and discussions can be lengthy and protracted. Direct confrontation should be avoided, however. Decisions are not normally reached within meetings, which are primarily intended to explore the issues.

It is not normal practice to give gifts in Cypriot business culture, but if you wish to do so, an ornament for the office or a good quality pen would be acceptable. If invited to someone's home, take a small edible gift such as pastries or fruit.

When visiting Turkish Cyprus, you should acknowledge and be respectful of Islamic values and practices. Most Turkish Cypriots are Muslims, and will pray five times a day. If visiting during Ramadan, you should avoid eating or drinking in front of your hosts who will be fasting. You should also be aware that Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol or eating pork.

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