Italians speak a lot. Good communication is loquacious and voluble. In order to convey a strongly felt point, it is important to use all possible powers of rhetoric to sway the listener.

Debate is an emotional issue where emphasis is highlighted through increased resort to emotionalism. Reserve or business detachment can be interpreted as signs of disinterest rather than professionalism. If you are engaged in the process and have strong opinions why not show them?

The combination of loquacity and visible emotion can often be misinterpreted by other cultures as lack of professionalism or even aggression. The ability to use language in such a way in Italy is, however, a key management tool and without the ability to veer towards theatricality, a manager’s armoury might seem a little light.

Formal presentations feature less heavily in Italian business life than they do in the USA or the UK and when given can seem a little stiff and even overly academic. Information would typically be disseminated in a less formal manner in smaller meetings.

Italians put more faith in information given to them orally by somebody with whom they have a strong, trusting relationship than any information sent in writing from afar. Discuss things in Germany in a meeting and a request for written confirmation of the ideas will invariably come as the meeting concludes: send something in writing to Italy and a request invariably comes back for a discussion of the issues.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Italy

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Overview

This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Italy. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Italy and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips