We love their wine, culture, and food. But what do we know about Italians and their expectations when it comes to training and development? If your answer is "not much," keep reading!
Test Your Knowledge of Italian Culture
- The modern Italian language evolved from what region in Italy?
- Who is the head of the Italian government?
- True or False. The official religion of the Republic of Italy is Roman Catholic.
Quick Tips for Training & Development in Italy1:
- Italians are fans of refined and formal interactions, appreciating a dignified and smooth approach. Out of formality, do not use first names unless invited to do so.
- Rapport is huge in Italy. Spend time preparing the factual details of your training, but also allocate an appropriate amount of time to invest in developing a strong relationship. The standing of your relationship will determine the level of interest in and receptivity to your training.
- English is spoken by many business people even though Italian is the official language. Be sure to clarify if there is a language preference for your training materials as many companies opt to offer training in Italian even if their employees are proficient in English.
- Even with a substantial religious background, Italians tend to use subjective feelings to make decisions rather than ideology or objective facts. As such, you may find it hard to move learners to a new perspective or methodology even if your reasoning is sound.
- As a foreigner, you are expected to be punctual for meetings, although your Italian counterparts may run behind. It's also common for the most important person in the meeting to arrive last. The further north you travel, the more efficiency you'll find in business interactions and schedules.
- The Italian view of time is that it's best managed when spent well, not necessarily requiring that appointments start or end on schedule. They value building relationships and are also heavy proponents of a work-life balance, favoring more "life" versus the American favoring of "work".
- Respect for authority must be demonstrated, and one's authority often travels with the individual, not necessarily his or her title.
- Even if your host comments negatively about Italian culture or history, be careful not to chime in. Italians can say things about their own country that outsiders cannot. Instead, safe topics of conversation include art, food, wine, and sports.
- Excited and expressive gesturing is common and expected.
Italian Culture Answers:
- (b) Tuscany. The Tuscan dialect was also the preferred dialect of some of Italy's greatest writers, including Dante and Boccaccio.
- The prime minister. The president is the chief of state.
- False. While a majority of Italians are Roman Catholic in heritage, there is no official religion.
1Morrison, Terri, & Conaway, Wayne A. (2006). Kiss, bow, or shake hands (2nd ed.). Avon: Adams Media.
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