WORKING ABROAD / JUL. 18, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Master Business Etiquette in Greece

Planning on visiting Greece for business? It’s important to learn the business customs and etiquette in order to avoid offending your hosts. Here is everything you need to know about doing business in Greece:

Relationships

In Greece, most people prefer to do business with those they know and trust. Building relationships with your Greek counterparts is the key to your success, and you should make it an priority to get to know the people you plan to work with.

Nepotism is very common in Greece, so don’t be surprised if you end up working with a number of relatives all in the same company. Don’t be surprised if someone’s "business connection" is a member of their family.

Meetings

If you want to schedule an appointment, it’s best to do so well in advance--up to 2 weeks. Short notice appointments can be made, but pre-arranged meetings are best.

Always call the day before your meeting to confirm it. Show up at the meeting on time, but don’t be surprised if your host is a bit late.

Remember that the lunch hours are between 1 and 3 PM, so it’s better to avoid meetings during this time.

The first meeting will usually be a "get to know you" event, the second meeting will further develop trust and a respect for each other, and business will usually only be conducted in the third meeting.

Do not be surprised if many people speak at once. Meetings can become very lively--almost to the point of being confusing. Agendas are treated as "suggestions", and many Greek meetings will deviate from the topics quickly.

Language

Greek is the language spoken in the country, though many professionals will speak English fairly well. If you want to make a good impression, consider hiring an interpreter to help you interact with your Greek counterparts. You should also have all printed materials in Greek as well as English.

Negotiations

If you want your negotiations to succeed, send a senior member of your company. Greeks respect age as well as position, so if you have an elderly senior member, you have a better chance of success.

You need to form personal relationships with your Greek counterparts if you want negotiations to go well.

Don’t expect things to be done quickly, as Greeks prefer to do business slowly and over the course of hours or even days. They are very skilled negotiators who love to haggle, and you should take care not to lose your temper, become frustrated or irritated, or seem impatient.

To present a service or product, explain how it will enhance the reputation of the person to whom you want to sell it. Don’t make the product or service sound good, but tell them how it will make them appear better.

Don’t hold Greeks to a deadline for making a decision. Most decisions are made by the heads of the company, who will often take their time with reaching a conclusion.

If there is only a simple contract presented, don’t be surprised. It’s the personal relationship you will form with your host that will ensure the terms of the contact are met.

Dress

Simple, European formal business wear is expected. Think business suits and ties in dark colorus, and avoid flashy clothing and accessories.

Business Cards

There is no formal ritual for exchanging business cards. However, you should have the Greek translation of your card printed on the back, and ALWAYS present the card Greek-side up.

 

Greek business etiquette is VERY different from the United States and the UK, so you should prepare for some culture shock as you try to negotiate and do business with your counterparts in Greece.

 

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