- Indirect Communication: Greeks can be quite indirect communicators. To avoid conflict or confrontation, they often take a long-winded, roundabout approach to conveying their messages sensitively and tactfully. Furthermore, they may become more vague and non-committal when giving negative answers in order to avoid disappointment or offence. For example, they may say they will “see what I can do” instead of giving a straight “no”. Nevertheless, they can be quite direct when communicating with those they know well.
- Communication Style: Greeks tend to use quite verbose, theatrical and intense language. This communication style can seem exaggerated as they commonly show their emotion in their speech. They may show a tendency to digress from the topic at hand and try to interrelate subjects or merge discussion with other thoughts they have. While interruption is not best practice or advised, it is common.
- Raised Voices: Greeks have few reservations about yelling to make themselves heard and often speak with impassioned, loud voices. They may argue topics at boisterous volumes. However, a raised voice is generally an expression of excitement or conviction rather than a sign of anger. Alternatively, a Greek becoming more nonverbal and reclusive would be a stronger indication that they are seriously upset.
- Silence: Greeks generally grow uncomfortable with long periods of silence and seek to fill them with their own voice. Alternatively, if you receive a silent response from them, it is fair to assume that the person you are communicating with is feeling negatively about what has been said.
- Personal Space: Greeks do not require a lot of personal space between one another. Therefore, they may sit or stand at slightly closer proximities than what you are used to. It is not unusual to have one’s belongings or body touching the stranger next to them when queuing, sitting/standing on public transport or in a crowd.
- Touching: Greeks are generally very tactile and affectionate. Hugging and kissing is common in public spaces. People often touch one another on the back, arm or leg to emphasise their point as they talk.
- Body Language: Expect many hand gestures to be used during communication. Greeks tend to be very expressive in their body language. Consider that newly migrated Greeks may interpret Australian body language as being stiff and reserved.
- Pointing: It is impolite to point at someone with the index finger.
- Expression: Despite being animated communicators, some Greeks reserve smiles and laughter for close friends. They may also make less use of humour in the initial stages of meeting people until they are comfortable with them. This can give them a more serious exterior upon first impression.
- Nodding: Greeks do not nod and shake their head to communicate in the same way as the English-speaking West. To indicate "no", one tilts the head backward once; nodding the head slightly forward means "yes". It is safest to verbally agree in order to avoid confusion.
- Eye Contact: Greeks usually expect direct eye contact to be made during conversation – try and meet their gaze when you talk to them. Eye contact conveys sincerity and honesty.
- Gestures: The hand gesture that signals ‘Okay’ (by putting one’s forefinger and thumb together to make a circle) is an obscenity in Greece. It is also severely insulting to hold up your open palm, fingers spread, at someone’s face. This is called the ‘moútza’. To make this gesture with both hands at the same time is thought to double the amount of offence caused.
- Smiling: Greeks may smile when they are angry or upset to conceal their emotions.
- Exhale: A Greek may expel air through pursed lips after giving or receiving a compliment. This is an old superstitious habit that was once believed to ward off the ‘evil eye’ that got jealous of the compliment. It is not meant to imply boredom.