Italian Business Etiquette Tips
Business people looking to establish and grow a presence in new Italian markets will benefit greatly from knowing and practicing proper business etiquette. In fact, with an understanding of Italian business etiquette, it's far more likely that you will effectively negotiate with and achieve success with your Italian colleagues.
In the world of Italian business relations, practicing proper business etiquette is essential, as many Italian businesspeople place great value on first impressions. By demonstrating your aptitude, you will impress your colleagues and effectively show your proficiency in the business world.
Italian Business Meeting Etiquette
Proper Italian business meeting etiquette is quite formal and differs, in some respects, from business etiquette in other European countries. Here are some Italian business etiquette tips that will help you appropriately interact with your foreign colleagues:
- Avoid high-pressure tactics, and don't expect decisions to be made during business meetings. According to business meeting etiquette in Italy, meetings are times for each relevant party to air his or her ideas and/or issues – meetings are not the time to make definitive decisions.
- Get Italian translations of all business documents. All agendas, contracts and other business documents should be distributed (or received) in both English and Italian translations.
Schedule appointments at least 2 weeks in advance. The most appropriate manner of scheduling business meetings is in writing and in Italian. Regardless of whether your colleague speaks English, getting an Italian translation of your appointment request is courteous and thoughtful – especially if your colleague speaks but doesn't read English.
Also, it's proper to reconfirm any scheduled business meeting with a call or fax. As with the original meeting request, be sure to transmit the fax in Italian.
- Stick to any verbal commitments, as failing to follow through with an agreed-upon decision can cost you credibility and, very likely, the business relationship.
Other helpful etiquette tips for Italian business meetings include:
- Expect your Italian colleagues to be descriptive, talkative and demonstrative.
- Hire an Italian interpreter if you aren't fluent in Italian, as this will demonstrate your respect for your Italian colleagues.
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- Try to get a third-party introduction to potential colleagues, as Italians value personal relationships.
- Wear a few elegant accessories, as this display of wealth translates to power in the business arena.
Values Honored in Italian-Speaking Countries
Many rules of Italian business etiquette are shaped by the values that Italians hold in high respect. Values that Italian speakers honor include:
- Respect for Authority
Business Etiquette Tips for Specific Italian Regions
Along with the above-listed values, some Italian regions have their own unique etiquette practices. Here is a look at proper business etiquette specific to certain Italian regions:
Italy: While Italian translations of business cards are essential for any business meeting, having a "social card" for non-business interactions is also important. A "social card" is a card slightly larger than a business card that includes your name, phone number, title(s) and academic degree(s).
Be sure to include an Italian translation on the flipside of your social cards.
- Vatican City: Although having Italian translations of meeting agendas is essential, don't consider them to be the final version, as Vatican business etiquette considers agendas to be springboards for further conversation.
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