Close the deal on your next Italian business trip with this lesson from Italian teacher Nadia B. on useful Italian phrases and etiquette tips for doing business…
Are you planning on doing business in Italy? It’s important that you learn Italian—even just a little—before your trip, as you want to interact with constituents in a professional and polite manner.
In this article, we’ll explore various useful Italian phrases and words you can use to ensure your meetings go off without a hitch. But before we jump into learning Italian, below are some helpful etiquette tips.
Italian Business Etiquette Tips
When it comes to doing business, Italy and the U.S. are fairly similar; however, there are some cultural differences. Use the tips below to ensure that you’re well prepared for your meeting.
- Be on time: Contrary to popular belief, Italians take punctuality for business meetings very seriously. Make sure your on time for meetings and leave yourself enough time to get to your destination if you’re not familiar with the area.
- Gift giving: Only after you’ve established a trusted relationship with your Italian constituents is it appropriate to give a small gift. Proper gifts include liquors, delicacies, or crafts from your native country.
- Dress Code: Italians are as serious about their fashion as they are their food. Make sure, therefore, that you dress to impress. Men typically wear high-quality, tailored suits, while women opt for a feminine skirt suit or dress.
- Greetings: Greet the group by saying “Buongiorno” (good morning) or “Buonasera” (good afternoon/evening) and shake each individual’s hand. Typically, older people and women will be introduced first.
- Titles: When meeting someone for the first time, address the person with his or her appropriate title followed by his or her last name. For example, “Dottore” and “Dottoressa” for individuals holding a university degree, “Avvocato” for a lawyer, “Ingegnere” for an engineer, and “Architetto” for an architect.
Useful Italian Phrases for Business
Perhaps the most important concept to learn in Italian is the use of the formal ‘you’. While in English, there’s only one way to address a person, in Italian there’s a formal (“Lei”) and an informal (“tu”) option.
In most business situations, you’ll want to use “Lei” since it’s more formal and a sign of respect. However, if you find yourself among colleagues of a similar age in a more casual situation, it may be more appropriate to use “tu”.
Here are some other useful Italian phrases for initial introductions and greetings, as well as some helpful networking phrases.
- “Buongiorno, come sta/stai?” (Hello, how are you [formal/informal]?)
- “Piacere.” (Nice to meet you.)
- “Come si chiama/ti chiami?” (What is your name (formal/informal)?)
- “Sono ___.” (My name is ___.)
- “Per quale società lavora/i?” (For what company do you [formal/informal] work?)
- “M’interesserebbe sapere più del suo/tuo lavoro.” (I would be interested to learn more about your [formal/informal] work.)
- “Posso avere il suo/tuo recapito?” (Can I have your [formal/informal] contact information?)
- “Se vuole/vuoi, mi piacerebbe incontrarci per un caffè.” (If you [formal/informal] like, I’d like to meet you for a coffee.)
When you’re really getting down to business, you might need the following Italian phrases.
- “Quanto costerebbe questo progetto?” (How much would this project cost?)
- “Quanti articoli vorrebbe/vorresti?” (How many items would you [formal/informal] want?)
- “Quando potrebbe essere realizzato?” (When could it be completed?)
- “Possiamo usare l’inglese per communicare?” (Can we use English to communicate?)
Lastly, here are some useful Italian vocabulary words that might come in handy.
- “la riunione” (meeting)
- “l’agenda” (agenda)
- “la presentazione” (presentation)
- “il verbale” (report)
- “la tassa” (tax)
- “il salario” (salary)
- “gli affari” (business [in the general sense])
- “l’azienda/l’impresa” (company)
- “l’impiego/il lavoro” (occupation)
- “il negozio” (shop/store)
- “il/la cliente” (client)
- “il pranzo di lavoro” (working lunch)
- “il biglietto da visita” (business card)
- “i contatti” (contacts)
With these useful Italian phrases and etiquette tips above, you’ll be able to smoothly navigate throughout the world of business in Italy.