Communication: Saying yes or was it no?!

Hi again,

today you get a shorter and less nerdy blog post than the last few. It’s going to be all about communicating. Even though it’s over a year ago since I moved to Cyprus, I still smile and think about the language differences whenever I hear the Greek word “vaí” (nai) – meaning yes.


If you were in Denmark and heard the word “næ” (nai) it would have a very different meaning, namely no. Imagine which confusion this would create in a communication situation, if you automatically presumed it had the same meaning!

It’s not only words that can create confusion and misunderstandings, when communication with another culture and/or in another language. You always need to be careful, when doing business with other countries. It’s not always enough knowing the language, you also need to know the culture and not least the business culture.

Cultural differences

Some cultures uses their hands a lot when they speak, which is a problem if you only communicate online or via phone. It can therefore be a good advice to meet with the other part personally and beforehand make sure that you know how to behave and how to interpret the other part.

Some cultures, e.g. Finland often do business while socializing, whereas Germans like to separate the matters. There is no better way of doing business, it all depends on the eyes that sees and which custom we are used to. Therefore its always advisable to know the traditions and way of doing business are, before entering a partnership.

Learning by doing

After a very short time here in Cyprus I quickly learned that even though a Cypriot says that he/she’ll call you back, then don’t expect it to be true – in some cases you have to call them back your self, and that several times to make sure you have an appointment or to follow up on a matter. This mostly goes business wise – haven’t had any problems with my friends not calling back! You should think that it would be important to call a possible client back, if you want to make money, not necessarily in this culture.

Coming from a very structured culture, where timetables and deadlines are important and moving to a country, where things are more relaxed take time to adapt to – and vice versa for that matter! I do, however, enjoy the more relaxed way of living, just not when I need things to happen more quickly!

An example here of: A friend of mine opened a restaurant, but had to shut it down due to some legal issues, which she thought was taken care of. Then she decided to start all over. To open any kind of business in Cyprus you need a lot of licences a.s.o. She has, however, had a lot of difficulties getting everything ready in a short period of time, as you need to go many different places to have them done, then there are the limited opening hours (and not least the closing of most public offices in August) as well as the problem of time – it can take a lot of time just opening a business bank account, especially after the crisis hit Cyprus.

How do they do?

As the example shows then you need to get the right contacts in order to have everything done properly, also to save time and money – but everything takes time here. So if you consider opening a business in another country or even your own, it’s always good to get in contact with a professional business that knows what they are doing. It also doesn’t hurt for you to study the culture and rules regarding having a business in the chosen country, just to make sure everything is done right.

Luckily it’s a strong friend, who still believe in fighting for her goal. You never know when you get burned, but we all live and learn, and you never know if it’s the right solution until you have tried.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better” – Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)


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