How to Do Business in Greece
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Families are very important in Greece. Elders are highly respected,
and children care for their elderly parents. Children are
disciplined firmly, but parents (even those who are poor)
spend a great deal of their income on feeding, clothing
and educating their children. Men consider it a personal
honor and responsibility to care for their family.
Meeting and Greeting
- Shake hands with everyone present—men,
women and children—at a business or social meeting.
Shake hands again when leaving.
- Good friends are most likely to embrace
- Greeks are very demonstrative and affectionate.
- Nodding your head “yes”
is not polite; say “yes” instead.
- "Yes” is signified by a slight
downward nod of the head; “no” is a slight
upward nod of the head.
- The “O.K.” sign is a rude
gesture; “thumbs up” means O.K.
- Punctuality is not particularly important
in Greece, but foreigners are expected to be on time for
business meetings, even though their Greek counterpart
may be late.
- Greeks want to get to know you before
they will do business with you. Business meetings will
usually begin with general conversation before business
- Trust is a major ingredient for acceptance
and is much more important than qualifications, expertise
or performance. Greeks may be slow to trust foreigners.
- Greeks distrust written communications.
Put everything down on paper and get the appropriate signatures.
Letters/memos are often stiff and formal.
- Avoid telephoning unless it is impossible
to meet. Personal face-to-face contact in all matters
is vital to communications.
- There is one boss, and he/she takes
complete responsibility. The boss is the owner or the
owner’s most trusted employee.
- Meetings are often forums for expressing
personal opinions (usually contrary) or to inform the
group about what is taking place; they seldom have a formal
- Consensus is important, and meetings
may last or be reconvened until unanimity is reached.
- The official work day starts early,
ends at lunch and may start again at 5:00 p.m.
Dining and Entertainment
- Arrive at least 30 minutes late for
a dinner party. 8:00 means “after 8:00.”
- Greeks are extremely generous hosts.
- Greeks may share the bill with the host,
but a foreigner should not try to do so. The person who
extends the invitation pays.
- Eat everything on your plate. If you
cannot eat everything on your plate, you must tell the
hostess that it is too much food the moment you are given
your plate. At that time, your plate with either be brought
back to the kitchen and some food taken off, or the hostess
will insist that you try to eat what you can.
- Eat more, stay longer or do whatever
a host insists upon. The offer will be very sincere.
- Try to join in Greek dances. It is greatly
- Business dinners are social occasions.
Follow your host’s lead as to whether or not business
is discussed at dinner.
- Be extremely careful of your wine intake.
- Dress is less formal than in most European
- Women most often wear dresses.
- Always bring the hostess a gift when
invited to someone’s home. Give: expensive wines,
brandy, pastries, whiskey, cut flowers. Do not give: inexpensive
wines, knives, sharp objects.
- Business gifts are commonly exchanged
among business colleagues. Give: expensive wines, something
for the home, Greek handicrafts, gifts with your company
logo. Do not give: inexpensive wines, sharp objects.
- The Greeks “pass” time,
not “use” it.
- Expect Greeks to ask personal questions,
such as “Are you married?” or “Do you
have children?” This is not considered rude, but
an attempt to get to know you personally.
Especially for Women
- Foreign women will find Greece a good
place to do business.
- Women’s opportunities in business
depend on their connections, the same as for men.
- It could be a problem for a foreign
woman to invite a Greek man to lunch or dinner. Invite
others along as well or, if for dinner, invite his wife.
- A Greek man will always try to pay,
but if you make arrangements beforehand and are insistent,
he will probably give in.
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