The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. -Aesop
When comes to mind when you think of Greece? Do you envision the ancient architectural landmarks in Athens or the white, sandy beaches with panoramic views of the Aegean Sea in Mykonos and Santorini? Greece, an international hot spot for celebrities and sports figures like the Kardashians and David Beckham, has a unique history and culture that is evident in their business values and communications. There’s no doubt that this beautiful country has a lot to offer any visitor, but there are also some traditions you might want to be aware of if you’re going to travel there for business. In order to prepare yourself for your business meeting in this gorgeous and inspiring country, read below for some tips about communicating effectively with your Greek colleagues.
A major part of communicating clearly and efficiently while you’re in Greece is understanding the intricacies of the Greek culture. Knowing these norms can help you make meaningful professional connections, and they can help you get your message across in the most contextually appropriate way. Greeks are warm and hospitable, and they place a high emphasis on building and maintain business relationships. In fact, these relationships are often inroads to professional advancement. Greeks are known to be friendly and easy-going, but be careful not to insult their honor or publicly challenge their statements.
Giving a gift is another way people often show their Greek colleagues how much they appreciate their hospitality. Gifts are given to celebrate ‘namedays’ or birth dates of the saints after whom they are named for and Christmas. These gifts don’t need to be expensive; they should simply be thoughtful. A common gift is flowers. A dinner guest should always bring a small gift to their hosts to show their appreciation.
Business Meeting Protocol
Business meetings in Greece are generally conducted with the intention of building trust and respect. In these meetings, it is customary for your Greek business colleagues to get to know you as a person. This process usually involves three meetings, and business isn’t dealt with until the third, after your colleagues have gotten to know and trust you. These appointments should always be scheduled one to two weeks in advance, and they should be confirmed the day before they are scheduled for.
It is always best to have printed material available in both the Greek and English languages, and it is a good idea to hire an interpreter for efficient and clear communication. It is common for Greeks to stray from agendas, and it is not unusual for many people to speak at the same time; passionate debates are encouraged. Meetings shouldn’t be scheduled between the hours of 1:00pm – 3:00pm because this is when Greeks are often at lunch.
Negotiation is very important in Greek culture. Greeks are highly skilled at negotiation, and they respect those who are patient and even-tempered. Age and rank are qualities that Greeks respect in their business connections. Deadlines are often deal breakers in the decision-making process. When a deadline is imposed, a decision is often arrived at quickly.
Relationships are the key takeaways for doing business in Greece. Once you establish trust and respect, you should have no trouble communicating with your Greek colleagues. Don’t forget to soak up some sun on the islands and try some delicious Corfu food while you’re there!