Appearances mean a lot to Italians; they judge a person based on the way he or she dresses and carries him or herself. The first impressions they form about someone usually are the lasting impressions. For that reason, one should always be respectful when greeting italians and attentive to his or her appearance when doing business in Italy.
The greetings are enthusiastic, but formal. When greeting someone for the first time, one should give a handshake with direct eye contact. As the relationship progresses, air-kissing on both cheeks, starting with the left one, and a pat in the back amongst men are often added.
Italians prefer doing business with someone they know and trust, for that reason, a third party introduction is more than welcome in forming a foundation to work from. They like to know someone personally before developing a professional relationship, which makes space to talk and ask questions about personal subjects, such as family and personal interests. Since Italians are intuitive, it is advised to make an effort to gain their trust. Italians are expressive communicators, they tend to be eloquent, emotional and to use facial and hand gestures to prove their point; they use to raise over their voice to be heard over other people, which does not mean they are angry.
Appointments for meetings are mandatory and should be made in writing in Italian with a 2-3 weeks notice. It is recommended to confirm the meeting by telephone or fax, in Italian. In northern Italy, punctuality is seen as a virtue, hence the need to be on time for meetings. Since in August most companies are closed and Italians go on vacation, it is advised not to schedule any meetings during this time. It is important to keep in mind that decisions are not made during meetings, they are meant to be an environment where ideas are expressed and everyone has their say. When giving out printed material, one should make it available both in English and...