Conservatism includes strong religious ties and beliefs, especially in rural and other traditional areas, and visitors should never comment on religious matters, or identify themselves as atheist, when dealing with traditional people.
That said, most business people in Athens and the other major cities are very modern, and this is much less of an issue in such situations. Discussion of politics is best avoided, especially over sensitive issues such as relations with Turkey, the Cyprus issue, or the politics of the former-Yugoslavia. This is especially true in a business context, as in social situations Greeks may often raise such issues. Greeks tend to respect the elderly and experienced – young business people may experience small problems in being treated with the same seriousness as older people, and respect should always be given to the elderly and people in senior positions.
Punctuality is not particularly important for Greeks. They tend to be late for appointments, although they expect their counterparts to be on time for business meetings. Also for this reason, scheduling an appointment is not always necessary, but is courteous. Greeks enjoy socializing with friends and business associates. Dinners are a form of entertainment, which take several hours and are usually followed by drinks.
In Greece, gifts are not essential to business relationships and Greeks do not normally expect to exchange gifts on a first meeting. Nevertheless, an occasional gift (mostly at Christmas and Easter) will be very much appreciated. An excellent bottle of liquor or wine, office accessories, fine chocolate, are examples of gifts often offered in business interactions. Gifts are usually nicely wrapped and opened right away.
Australian firms wishing to operate in this country should commit to the highest level of corporate behaviour and familiarise themselves with Australia's law and penalties pertaining to bribery of foreign officials. Bribery of foreign public officials is a crime. Australian individuals and companies can be prosecuted in Australia for bribing foreign officials when overseas. Further information on the regulations governing bribery of foreign public officials is available from the Austrade website.
If you are interested in doing business with Greece and you would like to learn more about the language, the people and its culture, contact VLLC and start your language journey.