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The Basics of Italian Business Etiquette

March 09, 2024
2024-03-09
Business is big in Italy. Stereotypes will have you believe that Italians are carefree people, boisterous in their expressions of affection while passionate in their pursuit of romance. There are certainly many Italians who fit such descriptions, but there are also just as many who are serious at work. Why do you think there are countless world-famous Italian companies? From fashion houses to iconic car brands, Italy itself is a huge business hub. If you want to get into the country's corporate game, you have to learn its rules. Brush up on the basics of Italian business etiquette, such as always wearing your best suit, practicing patience now and then, and exchanging business cards in both English and Italian.

The Basics of Italian Business Etiquette


Brush Up on Your Italian

First things first, learn some Italian. Or if you already know a little, improve it even more. This is the best thing you can do if you want to succeed in doing business or working in Italy. Despite how international Italian's corporate world has become over the years, most professionals exclusively speak Italian. Sure, they may know other European languages or hire translators to help deal with foreign businessmen, but to truly impress them, you'd do well to speak Italian. This will give you a better chance to seal the deal and end up on top!


Don't Be Too Fussy on Their Punctuality

As far as punctuality is concerned, Italians are pretty nonchalant about it. Expect them to arrive a little late almost every time. Or if you have an appointment with them at their office, you'll be waiting a bit before you get to see them. This may appear rude at first, but that's simply how they are. And it's not necessarily good for you to harp on about their tardiness or appear annoyed about it too. You should know about this now so you can manage your expectations. You, on the other hand, are expected to always arrive on time.

The Basics of Italian Business Etiquette



Always Dress Sharply

Dressing up is a way of life for the Italians. Whether it's Milan Fashion Week or an ordinary day at the office, they'll always expect you to spruce up and look your best. That's why it's important to always dress up sharply when going to the office, attending meetings, or especially hosting social gatherings. For men, it's all about the suit and tie. The better tailored it is for you, the more you'll leave a good impression. For women, suits and elegant dresses are the main choices. Don't forget to put on some makeup and fix your hair too!


Informal Talk is Common

Italian businessmen and women may look stern and strict at first, but they're not always so serious. Their focus on their appearance makes them look that way, but in truth, they're more laid back than what you probably give them credit for. During business meetings, for example, don't be too surprised to hear them talk informally. They're not always spewing business jargon when working. On the contrary, if you're a foreign business looking to strike a deal with Italian businessmen, they'll prefer to talk more about Italian culture than all the boring work stuff.

The Basics of Italian Business Etiquette



Get Used to Interruptions

You should also get used to interruptions when doing business with Italians. Let's say you're doing a presentation with Italian clients, for example. A good number of them may suddenly ask a question out of nowhere and interrupt you and while this may seem rude at first, it's really not here. Such occurrences are common in Italy's job market and corporate world and you simply have to go with the flow. It's a good thing to know about this now so you can better navigate this when you do get interrupted by an Italian at work.


Expect Long Business Lunches

Do you know what's great about the best cities to find work in Italy? Many of them are also foodie destinations. Rome and Milan are some of the most famous and they're pretty renowned for the culinary scenes as well. What does this have to do with Italian business etiquette, you ask? Well, it's about what to expect with Italian business lunches. Apart from possibly having it in famous restaurants in these big cities, you should also expect that these lunches will go on for a long time. It's even common for a business lunch to last three hours! So make sure to clear your schedule for it.

The Basics of Italian Business Etiquette



Prepare to Exchange Business Cards

In terms of exchanging business cards with Italians, make sure to have yours translated into their language as well. You can have one side in English and the other in Italian. As mentioned earlier, most Italian businessmen exclusively speak Italian. Even when they know or understand other languages, they'll prefer to work and do business in their native tongue. As such, any foreigner looking to work for or with Italians would benefit from learning and using the language as often as possible. In a nutshell, your Italian colleagues/clients will remember your business card more if they can understand it better.


Avoid Giving Gifts with The Company Logo

Now, let's talk gift-giving. Is giving or exchanging gifts common in Italy's corporate world? Yes, it most certainly is. Not only do they accept gifts from colleagues and clients, but they highly appreciate such gestures too. It's not necessarily a custom in the country, per se, but it's a good way to further solidify business partnerships, especially if you've worked with your Italian counterparts for a long time. And in terms of what to give, just remember to avoid items with the company logo on them. They see it as gauche and will likely sour the good relationship you already have.

The Basics of Italian Business Etiquette


If you want to work in Italy and climb up its corporate ladder, you need to learn about Italian business etiquette first. Something as simple as dressing up sharply and exchanging business cards can make a big difference.



#business-etiquette   #etiquette   #traditions   



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