The In’s and Out’s of Greek Business Etiquette

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If you’re growing your business and want to establish a presence in the Greek market you’d do well to brush up on Greek etiquette. A lot of people out there would probably watch Mama Mia and My Big Fat Greek Wedding and call it a day, but not you. You want to go the extra mile. Building business relationships is all about mutual trust and respect, so show your investors/employees/partners/bosses that you are willing to go above and beyond for them by learning a bit of their business culture. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Greetings and First Impressions

  • Business dress for both men and women is conservative.
  • Show respect by using titles in names until you are better acquainted.
  • Shake hands at the beginning and end of the meeting. Later when you are on more familiar terms expect to be hugged, patted on the shoulder, or even kissed.
  • Show how invested you are in the business relationship by having your business cards in Greek on one side. Present the Greek side when handing the card to a colleague.

Meetings

  • Be punctual. Generally you should expect meetings to start and end late, but since you are a foreigner you should show respect by arriving on time.
  • Business in Greece may move a bit slower that what you’re used to; take advantage of the situation. The first few meetings are generally used to develop trust and mutual respect, so be enthusiastic and show off all that Greek you’ve been learning. Your colleagues will appreciate the effort you put in.
  • When you do get down to business, make sure all your materials are translated to Greek for ease of use.
  • Don’t worry too much when the meeting strays from the agenda, this is normal. Discussions can get interrupted or sidetracked and instead of following the agenda, it’s used as a starting point and followed to the next logical talking point.

Cultural Tips 

  • Greeks respect seniority. When giving a presentation, be sure to focus on your senior business colleagues, because they are often the determining players in decision making.
  • Never say anything that may challenge someone’s honor or integrity; those values, along with the importance of family, are ones that should never be contested.
  • Never, and I mean NEVER, give the “O.K.” hand sign (thumb touching forefinger) or the “stop” hand sign (palm outstretched towards the recipient); both are considered very offensive and could cost you a lot of business.

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Though following these tips should give you an edge in your business dealings, there is one last thing which will really make the difference. Even though most Greeks speak excellent English, learning the basics of the Greek language will show both commitment and respect for the culture of your new colleagues. Send an inquiry for more information about taking Greek courses!

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