- First impressions are important. Present yourself neatly, stylishly and professionally in a conservative suit.
- Lateness is more common in Greece; up to 10 minutes is usually acceptable. However, it is fair for you to expect that someone provide a good excuse if they are very tardy to an important business meeting.
- Exchange business cards after a formal introduction, and make sure to take a recognisable moment to examine the content of the card you are given before putting it away.
- Allow social conversation to pass before mentioning business, and expect that this may take longer than anticipated.
- The agendas of business meetings serve as guidelines but are not closely adhered to. Greeks 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. They may conduct multiple conversations 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 free-flowing conversation and encourage ideas.
- The best way to negotiate is to be friendly and patient; however, you can be firm.
- Greeks sometimes need time to size up scenarios and adjust their expectations accordingly. You may find that as the meeting progresses, they will become more willing to compromise and negotiation becomes smoother and more effective.
- 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.
Personal relationships play a large role in Greek business culture. Third-party introductions are helpful as Greeks prefer to work with those whom they know and trust. Face-to-face contact is preferred when possible as this deepens the personal relationship between partners. Verbal agreements are considered more binding and are usually adhered to on the basis of trust. Therefore, follow up on anything agreed upon in writing with verbal communication (e.g. phone call).
In order to deepen a relationship, try and be talkative and personal about yourself. Avoid appearing stiff and impersonal in contrast to their expressive personalities. Greeks will often be eager to know you and may ask many questions about your family and personal life. Such questions may come across as direct and overly personal, but it is not intended that way. Moreover, ask them similar questions in return – they generally appreciate it when their colleagues show interest in their personal lives.
Consider that Greeks invest much time and effort into their relationships. Cultivating a rapport often happens in social settings and meals over a long period of time. With this in mind, refrain from acting informally before a proper friendship has developed. Australians tend to adopt a matey character early on in their relationships, but this moment comes later (particularly in business) for Greeks after the proper foundations of friendship have been made.
- Hierarchy is important in Greek business culture, and status is comparative to age and position. Everyone – including those of lower statuses – is generally given the opportunity to speak in meetings. However, final judgement calls are made by the person of highest status and all authority for such decisions lies with them.
- Demonstrative displays of emotion are occasionally used as leverage in arguments under the premise that ‘he who cares more about the outcome should receive more’. Acknowledge and appreciate their passion, but do not let this lead you to believe that they will base decisions on emotion alone. Greeks respect responses and outlooks that are based on rationale and will listen to appeals of reason.
- If a conflict of interest arises, take a direct approach in resolving it. Let your feelings be known to them, preferably face-to-face. Hiding the matter or telling another person is discouraged.
- It is appreciated and expected that one will be flexible with the rules.
- On the Corruption Perception Index (2017), Greece ranks 59th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 48 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector has a moderate level of corruption.