Italian meeting culture

The seemingly innate desire to talk is typical of Italian business meetings. Italians embrace a fairly lively communication style. While you may communicate more directly and objectively, they display more enthusiastic gestures, facial expressions and emotions. Their expressive style, which always includes a little self-staging, includes simultaneous, loud speaking, which makes it significantly more difficult for others to keep a grasp on the conversation. If you are more accustomed to a more restrained body language paired with comparatively little eye contact, it will give your speech and manner of communication a slightly different impression from an Italians’ point of view. If you have a more disciplined manner of speech free of interruptions from either side, the Italians may mistake your efforts at politeness for disinterest. They measure interest, for example, by spontaneous questions. In the absence of such interjections, their own flow of speech will not be easily interrupted, so you may feel left by the wayside if you do not assert yourself.

Creativity defines the meeting

Here, creativity and the power of ideas dominate meeting agendas, which can quickly expand a topic. Within a few minutes, the most diverse strategies for solving a problem arise, and are just as quickly discarded. It is always back to what has been said or anticipated in the first place. Many topics are simply discussed simultaneously. It is also customary to spontaneously get more people into the meeting, or have two meetings arranged one after the other merge together to form a major event. Individuals leave the room or, in small groups, several small discussion groups are formed. The speakers show off their eloquence and there is often a tendency for unnerving hair splitting. Everyone is entitled to interfere and contribute his or her opinion. It is therefore often advisable to make some new allies in advance for new ideas that constructively support the proposal in the meeting.

Closeness and chaos

Also noteworthy is also the lower relative social distance of the Italians. They like to stand, sit or discuss matters face to face, quite literally. For others who feel a more comfortable with an arm’s length of personal space, close sitting together often feels strange, combined with a loud discussion. Successful business partners very quickly perceive the dynamics of Italian meetings as uncontrolled chaos. They therefore learn to counter with formal presentations in order to gain structure and order. Any attempt to intervene, however, may backfire. So throw yourself into the Italian fiesta!

Katrin Koll Prakoonwit

+49 (0)711 722 468 44
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