General Information:Capital: Rome
Political system: a parliamentary republic with a prime minister (prime minister) appointed by the president and a head of state by the president.
Population: 60.3 mil
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Official language: Italian
EU single emergency number: 112
Rescue service: 118
Cultural differences and advice from Intercultural Communication Coach:
Italy is a country where the emphasis is put on history and good food. Building personal relationships, friendships and an external “image” are the values that the Italians follow in their personal and professional lives. The term “bella figura” is used in Italian to describe these values and it can be translated as an elegant appearance, a pleasant social behaviour, respect for the rules and the social hierarchy. The Italians spend their free time in a family circle or with friends over good food and wine. What is important for them is not time but people. Therefore, they are not under pressure due to deadlines and schedules. Personal meetings or more formal events are usually more relaxed and last longer than planned.
The Italians are among the cultures that perceive time flexibly. Investing time in building relationships and friendships is crucial in personal and social life. The Italians take pride in their right to express their opinions as team members at business meetings. The discussion on solving problems is usually long and the effort to reach a decision by consensus ends with the decision of the team leader or director. The Italians usually try to create a relaxed informal atmosphere during business meetings. That is why some meetings take place at lunch or dinner. The best way to organize an official meeting is by phone contact. They perceive the email communication as impersonal.
Recommendations for Co-operation with Colleagues from Italy:
According to them, time serves people and it is not their enemy. Many other cultures, especially those that plan everything in detail, perceive the Italian approach to time as an inconsistency.
The Italians devote a lot of time to the introductory “small talk”, which is perceived by other cultures and Slovak people as unnecessary. They cannot understand that trust is paramount for Italians and it leads to good business and partner contacts.
There is a clear hierarchy in companies, which is respected and taken into account by employees when they co-operate with each other. They also expect it from their partners.
Italian colleagues often communicate emotionally when speaking in their mother tongue. Other communication partners may have the impression that their Italian colleagues are angry. However, with their communication style, they only express their interest in the issue and engagement.
The Italians expect other cultures to spend more time getting to know each other personally, because human values and conduct are sometimes more important to them than one’s expertise.