Communication between sexes
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 armory 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.
Italians are famous for their non-verbal communication. A stereotype often heard about Italians is that we talk with our hands. Non-verbal communication is popular for many reasons—habit, emphasis and the ability at times to say more with gestures than you can with words. In many ways, gestures and body language become direct expressions of one’s personality and culture. If you have been to Italy, you know we do start communicating with our bodies from the very moment we get to know you: we shake hands vigorously, we hug, and we smile in a fashion that is entirely and charmingly Mediterranean.
The question “How do I greet someone when I’m in Italy?” can be easily answered, but it is important to understand that there is not just one way to do so. Italians often greet friends with a tight hug or a kiss on each cheek, but you will also find people greeting with a shake of hands, a nod, a slap on the back or a smile. Nevertheless, there are some frequent gestures used when people meet and it can be useful to understand them.