The business culture in Greece differs in several ways from that of North American countries. Use of time, presentation of gifts and even when you eat and drink are social customs that should be followed to successfully communicate with your Greek business associates.
Your Initial Meeting
When meeting Greek business associates for the first time, dress conservatively. Men should wear dark suits and ties. Women should wear dark dresses or suits. When you greet your associates for the first time, shake hands--even with children. You may hug women you have met before. Men generally give each other a pat on the back if they have met before.
Greeks are food-oriented. Meals are lingered over, and glasses of wine are not emptied. When dining with your Greek associates, clean your plate, compliment the chef, and ask for seconds. Never empty your wine glass entirely. Place your fork and knife parallel to your plate, facing right, to indicate that you have finished eating.
If you are visiting someone's home in Greece, bring a small, nicely wrapped gift. Do not bring an expensive gift--the receiver will think that he must reciprocate with an equally expensive gesture. If you receive a gift, open it immediately so you don't offend the person giving you the gift.
A Sense of Time and Engagement
Greek culture has a polychronic sense of time, whereas North American countries have a monochronic sense of time. Polychronic-time users rely on tasks to provide more personal encounters. They are flexible with deadlines and view being late as a virtue of one who handles a lot of tasks at the same time. Monochronic-time users are serious about deadlines and commitments. They tend to be less flexible and are more devoted to the task itself than to the people involved in the task.
This can affect business negotiations in a number of ways. Greeks see time as much more flexible than their North American counterparts. Business deals happen over a number of meetings after your Greek associates have gotten to know you. Rushing your Greek associates could send them the wrong signal and spoil any deals you have in place. Greeks are boisterous and emotional. It is a sign of engagement if a meeting becomes exciting and sometimes heated. If your Greek associate is quiet, you know that something might be wrong. In addition, Greeks have a high regard for direct eye contact. Always look your associates in the eyes when doing business.