Wednesday, 21 April 2010


In an extraordinary twist of fate, the start of our negotiations with the EU, ECB and IMF has fallen on the 21st of April, which of course marks the anniversary of the Colonels' Coup which kick-started seven years of dictatorship.

The figures could not be more ominous as I happen to think seven years is about the time it will take for us to get the IMF and Europe out of our faces again. This could have been better planned and I was not, of course, remotely the first or the only person to note this coincidence.

Our three negotiators are listed here. Add to these the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and you get - PHEW! Only five. For as the infamous rhyme still occasionally danced to by Junta apologists goes,

"On the 21st of April, six friends set out; the guiding lights of our Army and the saviours of our Nation"

Happily, the EU/IMF team is 20-strong. Nothing ominous about that. Still this doesn't mean they'll get a good deal.

Perhaps they should consider this concise guide to negotiating with Greeks. I will populate these quotes with hyperlinks when time allows:

"When negotiating business here, realize that people may expect things to be done ‘their way.’ Greeks tend to be very proud of their country and may strongly reject any critique of its ways."

"‘Saving face’ is very essential in Greece. Causing embarrassment to another person may cause a loss of face for all parties involved and can be disastrous for business negotiations."

"In the Greek business culture, the respect a person enjoys depends primarily on his or her age, rank, and status."

"Early in the business relationship, people may communicate more indirectly, appearing vague and non-committal. If in doubt, watch for subtle messages that may signal issues and concerns. Silence is often a way to communicate a negative message."

"Since Greeks want to know whom they will be meeting, provide details on titles, positions, and responsibilities of attendees ahead of time. They will expect to do business with the most important person in your organization."
"Setting an agenda upfront is usually not necessary. It would likely not be followed anyway."
"The primary purpose of the first meeting is to become acquainted and build relationships. Little else may happen, and you may actually not get to talk about business at all. It is unrealistic to expect initial meetings to lead to straight decisions."
"The level of information sharing depends largely on the strength of the relationship. During initial negotiations, the Greeks oft en play their cards close to the chest."
"Expect negotiations to be slow and protracted, and be prepared to make several trips if necessary to achieve your objectives. Initial exchanges that precede the bargaining stage of the negotiation may be lengthy. Decisions are usually made between meetings rather than at the table. Throughout the negotiation, be patient, control your emotions, and accept that delays occur. Attempts to rush the process are unlikely to produce better results and may be viewed as offensive."
"Greeks generally employ a polychronic work style. They are used to pursuing multiple actions and goals in parallel. When negotiating, they oft en take a holistic approach and may jump back and forth between topics rather than addressing them in sequential order. Negotiators from strongly monochronic cultures, such as Germany, the United Kingdom, or the United States, may find this style confusing, irritating, and even annoying."
"Deceptive techniques are frequently used. This includes tactics such as telling lies and sending fake non-verbal messages, pretending to be disinterested in the whole deal or in single concessions, misrepresenting
an item’s value, or making false demands and concessions."

"Negotiators in the country may use pressure techniques that include making final offers or nibbling. Final offers may come more than once and are rarely final."

"Greeks are often uneasy with change and reluctant to take risks. If you expect them to support a risky decision, you may need to fi nd ways for them to become comfortable with it fi rst, for instance by explaining contingency plans, outlining areas of additional support, or by off ering guarantees and warranties."

"Signed contracts may not always be honored. This depends to no small degree on the strength of the continuing relationship between the contract partners. It is strongly advisable to continue staying in touch and maintaining the trust of your Greek business partner. Business partners usually expect the other side to remain somewhat fl exible if conditions change, which may include agreeing to modify contract terms."

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