The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for Italy
A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z
Cultural Clues & Communication Guidelines for Italy
It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a big impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.
This article on cultural differences in Italy and cultural travel tips for Italy is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for Italy tips for communicating in Italy, and business strategies for Italy to help with understanding the culture in Italy. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture’, cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for Italy and tips for intercultural communication!
Cultural Tips for Italy – including some valuable business travel tips for Italy
There is tremendous respect for power, authority, and age in the Italian culture.
You will usually be introduced to older people and women first. When introducing yourself, it’s best to follow this protocol.
In the business culture, punctuality is not as much of a priority as in some places. However, it’s best to arrive on time and be prepared to wait.
In many cities there is a long lunch break from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Business may be discussed during lunch.
Be aware of summer vacations in August, as most companies are closed.
Frequent, warm and enthusiastic handshakes are common for both business and social occasions. Italians will also greet people they know well with an embrace.
It’s not unusual to see Italians touching an arm or hand in their enthusiastic conversation style.
Italians can be very demonstrative and like to gesture with their arms and hands while talking.
Italians have an enthusiastic communication style using variations of tonality and gestures!
Conversation interruptions are common, and there are rare moments of silence in groups.
Italians have many physical gestures that have very specific meanings. Because of this, avoid hand gestures where fingers are pointed, or singled out in a descriptive way so you don’t offend anyone.
In the Italian culture, people are traditionally expected to behave with a sense of decorum and formality. This concept is known as ‘bella figura’ (beautiful figure).
Although women form a relatively high percentage of the total workforce, the number of women in senior management positions is less than in some countries. However, progress is constantly being made in this area.
Women tend to be in
higher positions in family owned companies where stature within the family is
the key criteria.
Senior female managers in Italy and from abroad will always be treated with equal respect and courtesy.
In business, avoid chewing gum, leaning on things, or slouching. Good posture and direct eye contact is important
It’s advisable to wait to be seated at meetings, meals, or gatherings. Take these opportunities to cultivate feelings of respect and trust with your Italian counterparts.
Any presentation materials should be aesthetically pleasing. It’s essential that things look good as appearance is very important.
Hierarchy in business and “cordata” (chain of command) cannot be underestimated. A belief in status and hierarchy permeates all aspects of Italian society.
Decision making is rather slow and protracted, so be patient since rushing the process will only be an affront to the Italian business protocol.
Honor and personal pride are critical. Never insult an Italian, their family, their town, their friends, or their church (which is predominantly Roman Catholic).
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Tips
Italian architecture and landscape
Anything related to Italian art, opera and films
Sports, especially soccer
The warm Italian hospitality
Current events, as long as they are not derogatory to Italy
5 Key Conversation or Cultural Gesture Taboos
Religion, the Vatican and its policies
Politics, taxes, the Mafia and World War II
Criticizing the Italian culture, even if your Italian counterparts are doing so
Overly personal questions about job and family when you have just met
Negative comments about the local soccer team!
Join us in the future for Do’s and Taboos for JAPAN!
To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the cultural communication styles for Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book
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Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!
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