Business dos and don'ts in Greece

Rvo,  Tuesday, 3 October 2017

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Do you want to do business in Greece? Below are a number of important tips and points for attention.

Etiquette

  • At the first business meeting, people shake hands with each other. In a more personal relationship, 2 kisses on the cheek follow after shaking hands. To embrace is customary in a longer personal relationship, where mutual respect has grown.
  • Introduction takes place with first name, surname and function/role. On very formal occasions (or between the elderly and young people) Kyrie (general) or Kiria (m?) are used during the introduction. Tutoying and the use of first names is mainly done by people who know each other, are of the same age or have the same professional or financial status.
  • Show respect for the elderly. Let them go ahead and let them order first in a restaurant.
  • Coffee appointments (morning or afternoon) or lunch appointments are very suitable to discuss matters. An evening dinner meeting is a social event for the Greek. Things are usually not discussed.
  • Greeks usually confirm the appointment in the 24 hours before, by telephone or text message.
  • Greeks are not very punctual, but they do expect the visitor to be punctual. In Athens, always take into account traffic delays.
  • Greeks are hospitable to foreign visitors. You can easily accept an invitation for a lunch or dinner at their home. Then bring along a quality gift. Show interest in the family members present.
  • Greeks do not often give business partners business gifts. This sometimes happens once there is a relationship. Do not give very expensive or very cheap gifts, or gifts with the company logo.
  • Greeks often ask business relations a number of personal questions about education, work experience, family and network. They do this to get an impression. It is not the intention that you should delve too deeply. You can ask your interviewer the same type of questions.
  • Greeks are generally very proud of their country. Nevertheless, they can also be very critical about it. Do not address this criticism. Listen or ask questions about the political and economic situation or about history.
  • Avoid talks about political conflicts with neighbouring countries, such as the dispute with Turkey over Cyprus.


  • Communication

  • Greeks generally speak English. Depending on background, training and work experience, a 3rd language is spoken (German, French, Italian, Turkish or Russian).
  • Personal contacts are very important in Greece, especially for organisations of the same size. The extensive family network and business partners dominate the key sectors of the economy.
  • Greeks like discussions. A heated discussion is a sign of interest. It is a bad sign if Greeks remain silent or do not elaborate on their opinion.
  • Greeks can be very firm during discussions. They do not change their minds quickly. Do not try to convince them with arguments that are the opposite of theirs.
  • When defending ideas and points of view, Greeks can sometimes be very expressive at unexpected moments. Be wary then and do not take everything too literally or personally.
  • Decision-making is slow. You should occasionally contact your business partner so that they do not forget the appointments.


  • Negotiating tips

  • Greek business culture has a hierarchical structure. Make sure you speak to the right person within the company. If you are sitting at the table with a senior person, it is best to have a delegation of similar weight.
  • In the case of family businesses, the oldest members take the decisions. The younger generations have less to contribute despite their better language skills, expertise and skills. Make sure that direct cooperation with the younger generation always has the blessing of older members.
  • Greeks are reasonably flexible in terms of time. You should therefore also have a meeting agenda with the topics to be discussed. Or agree a time limit.
  • Distribution is mainly in the hands of local chains. The mountain regions and islands create logistical difficulties, especially for the road network. The role of importer-distributor is therefore crucial.
  • When it comes to agreements and contracts, the Greeks tend to generalise. Make the aspects on which you base the agreements as specific as possible.
  • The price is the most important factor in negotiations. Greeks have no problem with haggling and asking for discounts. Make sure your initial bid is flexible.
  • Greeks have no confidence in long and complex documents. So make sure that agreements and contracts are simply formulated, with clearly defined rights and obligations for both parties.
  • Take part in conferences or trade fairs when you want to explore new investment and trading opportunities. These fairs and conferences provide face-to-face contacts.


  • This article of is based on . Translated from the Dutch language by Jos Deuling.


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