Greek Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • Take the time to show some thoughtfulness and consideration into people’s lives, no matter your familiarity with them. For example, enquire about their well-being before getting to any point at hand. This is essential to fostering good relationships. It is thought to be brusque and blunt to skip small talk and immediately discuss your topic of interest.
  • Try to be open about yourself if you can. Greeks commonly share the personal details of their lives and appreciate when others do the same. They will likely ask you personal questions during casual discussion (i.e. “Are you thinking about having children?”) in an effort to get to know you.
  • If a Greek digresses from a topic, be patient and allow them to finish verbalising their thoughts before redirecting the conversation back to the point.
  • Show sympathy and solidarity if conversation turns to Greece’s economic situation. Most people will respond well to warmth.
  • Try to follow through with any verbal promise you make to a Greek. The spoken word is valued in Greek culture and people are expected to be true to what they say. Greeks with whom you have a close relationship may expect you to grant favours for them and show more loyalty to them than others. If you can, do what they ask; they will likely do the same for you in return.

 

Dont’s

  • Avoid criticising the Greek culture, people or nation. Though many Greeks openly complain about their country or lament about how it is being ‘ruined’ by the current politicians, remember that they are still very proud of their homeland and its cultural contributions to the world. Foreign criticism is unlikely to be appreciated.
  • Avoid provoking conversation about Greece’s relationship with Cyprus, Turkey or North Macedonia. You cannot presume a person’s position on these affairs.
  • Never imply that the Greek people somehow deserved the financial crisis or that they caused their own economic demise. 
  • Do not suggest that Greeks are lazy. Comments implying that they do not contribute anything to the European Union can be particularly hurtful.
  • Avoid making comments that could be perceived to question someone’s integrity. Greeks tend to take personal offence to undertones of statements that suggest a person is dishonest, disingenuous or stingy.
  • Avoid drawing on ideas of ancient Greece to inform your assumptions of contemporary Greek culture. Greece is a globalised, technologically advanced country and such stereotypes are grossly misinformed.
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