Doing Business in Greece

Business Etiquette greeceFor an international business person, business traveller or expatriate, doing business in a foreign country poses some interesting cross cultural challenges. Getting to grips with a country's business culture, protocol and etiquette is important in maximising your potential and getting the best out of your visit.

This guide to doing business in Greece offers some simple introductory points to a few of the above mentioned areas such as business culture and etiquette. It is not intended to summarise all 'doing business tips' nor meant to stereotype the Greeks. It simply highlights some important key areas for consideration when doing business in Greece.

Meeting & Greeting

The handshake is the most common form of greeting in the business environment. Among friends or close acquaintances you may also see an embrace or kiss. Wait for the other party to initiate the move to this level if it ever comes.

Cultural Nuances

To say 'no' in Greece use an upward nod of the head. For 'yes' tilt the head to either side. However, note that many Greeks now also use the European/North American gestures too so it can be confusing!

The "OK" sign (circled thumb and forefinger) may be considered obscene. Never raise an open palm at face level as this is an insult. 
If you see a Greek make a puff of breath through the lips, they are warding off the 'evil eye'. This is usually done after receiving a compliment.

Try and avoid discussions involving sensitive issues such as with Turkey, the Cyprus issue, or the politics of the former-Yugoslavia.

Business Meetings

The Greeks can be fairly laidback and as such meetings can be arranged at short notice. It is best to do so over the phone and to confirm in writing (fax or email).

From May to October the working week is from Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 13:30 and then 16:00 to 19:30. However, from October to May the lunch break may be extended slightly.

Punctuality is expected although a slight delay will not he held against you. Meetings are usually vibrant affairs.  Be prepared for lots of questions, many people talking at once and interruptions. They will usually test your knowledge and experience and demand proof. You will be expected to bargain, and bargain hard.

Seniority is respected. All authority and ultimate decision making will rest with them. A leader is expected to provide a way of rallying the divergent opinions together. Never do anything to cause your Greek colleagues to lose face in front of their counterparts. Do everything you can to show how your proposal enhances their philotimo (love of honour).

Doing Business in Greece

The above examples are a few pointers one can take into consideration when doing business in Greece. Such tips are meant as a safety-net for those doing business there to help avoid misunderstandings and promote better communication.

Business Culture Guides

We offer free guides to doing business in many countries. Please visit Business Culture Guides for a full list.

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