Do we need intercultural competences in the relationship between Germany and Italy today? Both countries belong to Europe, have similar ethical values and best political relations. Business is conducted in English. Italy is a popular destination for Germans and Italians travel more and more to Germany. Nevertheless, cultural knowledge of the other country usually remains superficial and is characterized by prejudice. However, especially in the business environment, a good understanding of the cultural characteristics of potential partners is essential for the successful development of business relationships.
In Italy, small talk, the exchange of pleasantries and compliments is a fundamental building block of professional life. This shows interest in colleagues and co-workers. In Germany, business and personal life are strictly separated. Therefore, professional conversations are usually more “business-oriented”.
Relationship-oriented business in Italy
Like all areas of life, business in Italy is relationship-oriented. Italians want to know business partners personally before you build a business with them. Therefore, working lunches, small talks, coffee breaks are essential. Personal conversations about family, hobbies and preferences are not a “waste of time”, otherwise serve to build trust.
A meeting in Italy often starts later than planned: 10 to 20 minutes late is normal. Is this disrespect?
The “spontaneous” relationship-oriented Italian postpones appointments at short notice if a professional contact requires it. Italians are rarely ruffled, even under time pressure; they are masters of “improvisation” and everything works out at the last second. But, when the “bella figura” comes into play, Italians are guaranteed to show up over-punctual.
“I was born in Italy, have lived in Germany for 30 years, have worked as a trainer for language and communication since 2004 and am “at home” in both countries. Take advantage of my intercultural training for your business success.”
Dr. Sabrina Leonardi
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