Cypriot Culture

Business Culture

Meetings

  • Arrive to meetings on time. However, be aware that the meeting may not commence punctually.
  • The agendas of business meetings serve as guidelines but are not closely adhered to. Cypriots often loop back to discuss previously settled points or jump ahead to details not yet touched on.
  • They can conduct very animated business meetings. Expect many interruptions and tangents of conversation. Multiple conversations may occur at once in a group setting. Try to be patient and feel free to interrupt in order to make your point heard – they are unlikely to find it rude.
  • It is normal for conversations to become heated during meetings as this is considered to facilitate a free-flowing exchange of ideas.
  • It is common for meetings to progress slowly and run several hours overtime. Try to be patient as pressing them for time can end negotiations.
  • Bartering and bargaining is a normal practice in Cyprus, so expect some persistent attempts to negotiate closer to their favour. It is best for your opening offer to be open to concessions. Avoid beginning with your ultimate price, as the end result will usually be different from the starting point.


Trust and Relationships

Personal relationships are extremely important for doing business in Cyprus. People are often much more willing to engage in deals with those that they know and trust. If a Cypriot knows a person’s family, they will judge that person’s integrity by their family’s reputation to make an assessment as to whether or not to trust them. In other circumstances, people usually need to develop a strong friendship with at least one representative of a business before they enter into an agreement. This may take time to develop; however, the results can change the nature of a business relationship entirely. One may find that favours are granted on the basis of people’s personal relationships. For example, something will be completed much quicker for a friend than a stranger.

 

It is very important to understand that Cypriots envisage their loyalty to individuals personally, rather than to that person’s business as an entity. Contracts and agreements are upheld on the basis of personal trust just as much as legal obligation. To give someone their word – a verbal promise with a handshake and eye contact – is considered binding. As informal agreements have so much weight, Cypriots are often reluctant to consent to anything unless they know they can follow through. Therefore, don’t make promises of your own as you go along and discount them later. This will make you lose integrity in their eyes. You may ask for everything to be accompanied in writing for your own needs; however, be aware they will be paying attention to your words in addition to the documents.

 

Considerations

  • Cyprus suffered in the years following the European financial crisis. The middle class has struggled under the economic climate, with unemployment becoming a serious problem.
  • Cypriots are observed as having a very strong work ethic. This is somewhat influenced by the harder economic climate. However, Cypriots have traditionally made and worked for what they consume. They import relatively little considering the size of the island, as people tend to be very productive and make what they need.
  • Cyprus’ position between Eastern Europe and the Middle East is often a key advantage for offshore companies.
  • On the Corruption Perception Index (2017), Cyprus ranks 42nd out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 57 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector has a moderate level of corruption.
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