Greek Communication Styles

Although English is increasingly widely spoken, it would be dangerous to assume that all business acquaintances will be fluent in the language.

English language levels vary widely – check on the language levels before meetings or conference calls.

Much more emphasis is placed upon the spoken than the written word. Therefore, if you want a specific issue to be given serious consideration it is really important to speak to people about it – don’t just rely on email. Best of all are face-to-face meetings but if they are not practically possible then it is important to phone people.

Emotion is not suppressed in business situations and discussions can appear heated and at times acrimonious to those from a culture which frowns upon any visible shows of emotion during business dealings. This outward show of emotion is seen as a positive and implies engagement and emphasis. The time to be worried is when your contact is quiet — not when they are boisterous.

Greeks tend to stand much closer to each other and have far stronger eye contact than many other cultures. It is important that you are not intimidated by these issues, as lack of strong eye contact or maintaining too great a distance could be misconstrued as stand-offishness or untrustworthiness.

In social situations, you may be asked quite personal questions regarding your family life or finances.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Greece

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

To say that Greece has been through some troubled times in the twenty-first century would be an understatement. The banking crisis of 2008 possibly hit Greece harder than any other European country and resulted in its well-documented financial meltdown and subsequent massive tripartite bailout. The long-suffering people of Greece are still reeling from the austerity measures which were the price demanded by the international financial community in return for long-term fiscal support and they will be feeling that pain for a number of years to come.

Despite those difficulties, life continues in Greece and the country has a great deal to offer for those people who can see the potential of a country rich in history and full of future promise. Can you do business in Greece? Of course you can – the country remains one of the world’s great tourist destinations, its geographic position makes it an important staging post between Western Europe and the Middle East and Greece’s economy can only improve going forward.

As with any other country, one of the key considerations when doing business in Greece is to get a thorough understanding of the business culture you are likely to encounter when you arrive. Despite its membership of the European Union, Greece remains a traditional culture and business structures reflect age-old concepts of hierarchy and the importance of relationship networks. Making the right impression with the right people can be the difference between success and failure and we very strongly recommend that you do your research before entering into the Greek market. The age old maxim of ‘who you know is more important than what you know’ could definitely be applied to modern-day Greece.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Greek business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips