It is important for Italians that the person with whom they communicate for the first time is recommended by someone. This could be a business partner, a client, or an embassy and a chamber of commerce. A formal letter is the best form of the first business contact, but only accompanied by a phone call or a personal meeting.
Don’t be surprised if your letter written in English can be answered in Italian. This is a common practice among medium and small firms in Italy. Therefore, if you have the opportunity, in order to shorten the response time, it is better to write the first letter in Italian.
Italian executives rarely speak English and often negotiate with an employee of the firm who has a lower official position but speaks good English. In this case, it is worth remembering that during the meeting you need to contact the Italian partner, and not his assistant.
Italians attach great importance to a representative look and everything
What can emphasize social status. Elegant clothes, elegant accessories, up to a good ballpoint or fountain pen will be appreciated by the Italian. Everything should be stylish and neat, from clothes to folders for papers.
The business card of an Italian is most often one-sided and the less information on it, the more important the person is in front of you.
Inexpensive corporate souvenirs that can be useful both at work and at home will be pleasant to Italians. Even if your company logo is applied on them, it should not create the effect of rude advertising.
Italians like to give luxurious prospectuses of their companies or small corporate gifts, but always elegant and discreet.
When communicating with Italians, it is worth observing the formalities. The accepted formality in a business setting leads Italians to often refer to people by title, such as doctor, lawyer, professor or engineer.
Also, Italians do not see anything offensive in addressing colleagues by their last names, even without the words “signor” or “signorita”.
The subtleties of communication
Italians attach great importance to small talk. They will be happy to talk about art, architecture, local cuisine and wines. Sports, football, nature, holidays, movies, family – these topics will be discussed with pleasure by any Italian.
In business, at the first meeting, Italians are not inclined to touch on all business details at once. Most likely, you will be told more about yourself, asked about you, your company, about your family, which once again emphasizes the importance for Italians of building personal relationships.
The official character is not inherent in the negotiations with the participation of the Italians.
There is an atmosphere of open discussion; people can speak all at once, the main thing is to give everyone the opportunity to express their point of view.
The agenda, the regulations do not play a big role for the Italians. Although negotiations with the Italians can end very quickly, this does not negate their patience.
The Italians can agree on a preliminary agreement very quickly, but the discussion of the details may be delayed, as a result of which many points of the original agreements may change significantly.
A word of caution: the emotional nature of Italians often leads them to promise more than they can deliver, so try to separate fact from emotion.