For an international business person, business traveller or expatriate, doing business in a foreign country poses some interesting cross cultural challenges. Getting to grips with a country’s business culture, protocol and etiquette is important in maximising your potential and getting the best out of your visit. Greece is a High contect culture. In order to categorize it, we must first know what the difference between low and high context culture means.
High vs. Low Context Cultures suggests the categorisation of cultures into high context versus low context cultures in order to understand their basic differences in communicationstyle and cultural issues. Communication style refers to ways of expressing oneself, to communication patterns that are understood to be ‘typical’. Cultural issues mean certain societal factors, such as the country’s status, history, religion and traditions. Cultural issues also include Hofstede’s individualism vs. collectivism dimension. Social nuances are important parts to consider when doing business in greece.
To say ‘no’ in Greece use an upward nod of the head. For ‘yes’ tilt the head to either side. However, note that many Greeks now also use the European/North American gestures too so it can be confusing! The “OK” sign (circled thumb and forefinger) may be considered obscene. Never raise an open palm at face level as this is an insult. If you see a Greek make a puff of breath through the lips, they are warding off the ‘evil eye’. This is usually done after receiving a compliment. Try and avoid discussions involving sensitive issues such as with Turkey, the Cyprus issue, or the politics of the former-Yugoslavia.
They are task-oriented, highly organised and prefer doing one thing at a time. They stick to facts and fi gures that they have obtained from reliable sources. They prefer straightforward, direct discussion, and they talk and listen in equal proportions. So it is important to stand by your product with pride and transparancy in order to gain the trust of the consumers their, and also their business. The Greeks can be fairly laidback and as such meetings can be arranged at short notice. It is best to do so over the phone and to confirm in writing (fax or email).
The handshake is the most common form of greeting in the business environment. Among friends or close acquaintances you may also see an embrace or kiss. Wait for the other party to initiate the move to this level if it ever comes. One other country I would relate to Greece is Iceland because there are rural lands, and busy cities as well. Iceland is also facing financial challenges as Greece is due to the EURO currency and has been severly hit by the european recession as well. The corrupt politics and regulations of the country’s assets has led to some hard times inboth countries.
However, there are still many opportunities to in doing business abroad to such countries, considereing the minimum wages are increasingly lower than that of America and there is a large percentage of educated individuals seeking employment in these hard times. Another factor is untapped resounrces, such as oil and precious metals of the earth. Lastly, I would say whenever doing business in any country we must remember to that we are guest, and work with ethics in mind and proper investment so that there may be a positive effect on the country’s citizens view of international business ventures.
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