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Mastering Business Italian Language Etiquette: 5 Key Tips for Success

Welcome to our Italian language school's blog! In this article, we will dive into the world of business Italian language etiquette. Whether you're a professional planning to work in Italy, conducting business with Italian counterparts, or simply seeking to enhance your language skills, understanding the cultural and linguistic norms of Italian business settings is crucial. By mastering the art of business Italian language etiquette, you can confidently navigate professional interactions, build relationships, and achieve success in the Italian business landscape. Let's explore the key tips that will empower you to excel in Italian business environments.

Master Business Italian language

  1. The Importance of Formality In Italian business culture, formality and respect play significant roles. Addressing superiors and clients using the appropriate form is essential. Use the formal "Lei" when addressing someone unless invited to use "Tu." Colleagues are usually addressed with "Tu" in Italy, but every workplace has its own rules, so it's better to ask before making a mistake. Among young people in Italy "Tu" is generally preferred over "Lei". Remember that "Lei" works as a third feminine singular person, so you should think as if you were speaking to "Her" instead of "You". When using "Lei", you should remember that the gender of the adjectives depends on the gender of the person addressed, as usual, but the gender of the verbs is always feminine. For example, to a male interlocutor you would say "Lei è molto bravo", not "brava", but "L'ho chiamata ieri", instead of "chiamato". We know this all can feel awkward and complicated at first, but don't worry, you'll get used to it!

  2. Polite Greetings and Introductions Italian business etiquette emphasizes the importance of polite greetings and introductions. Begin meetings by greeting attendees individually with a warm "buongiorno" (in the morning) or "buonasera" (usually after 2pm). When introduced to someone new, it's customary to offer a firm handshake and exchange business cards. Don't forget to say "piacere" (nice to meet you) after the handshake! Many Italians use "Salve" to greet someone formally, although there is no definitive consensus in Italy regarding the formality of this word, which is often perceived as informal or even rude. Therefore, to avoid mistakes, we advice against using it in formal contexts. Make sure you use "Lei" when asking for someone's name. Don't say "Come ti chiami?", which is informal, but rather "Come si chiama?". Important: Italians like to switch to the informal "Tu" very quickly, so it is not uncommon to be told "Dammi del tu!" right after the first presentations. However, it is better to wait until you are invited to do so, before abandoning "Lei".

  3. The Use of Titles This is a very important part of business Italian language, and it is something that causes confusion even among native speakers. In very formal contexts, a person needs to be addressed by their title, and it is important to know the right one to use. This is especially crucial when sending emails (we'll talk about emails more in detail in the next point). It isn't possible, unfortunately, to use a generic "Signor / Signora", since this is considered impolite unless the person has no education or professional role. You will need, therefore, to know their profession and position to make a correct guess. The most common titles are the following: - "Dottore / Dottoressa": this isn't just used for doctors, but it is also generically used for those with a university diploma. - "Professore / Professoressa": used for university, middle school and high school teachers. - "Avvocato": for lawyers - "Architetto": for architects - "Ingegnere": for engineers - "Direttore": for directors With regard to the use of the feminine versions of the masculine titles, there is a lively debate currently in Italy about the most correct forms, and unfortunately it isn't possible for us to provide you with definitive advice. The forms provided above are the most commonly used, although it won't be uncommon to encounter a lawyer who prefers to be addressed as "Avvocatessa".

  4. The Right Formulas in Emails Sending emails is something that sooner or later you'll need to face if you use Italian at your workplace or, more generally, if you need to communicate with a business. It is therefore important to know how to write them properly, since there are fixed rules that need to be followed. First of all, unlike in English, you shouldn't start your email with "Caro" (dear) unless you are in a relatively informal relationship with the person you are writing to. If the email is very formal, you should start with "Gentile" or even more formally "Egregio", followed by the title and the last name of the recipient. For example, "Egregio avvocato Bianchi". If you write to an organisation, but your email is directed to a specific person, then you should write "Alla cortese attenzione di" + article + title + last name. For example, "Alla cortese attenzione dell'avvocato Bianchi". This roughly translates to "To the kind attention of". If the recipient is not a person but more generically a firm, you should use "Spettabile" followed by the name of the company. For example, if you are writing a formal email to us, you can start with "Spettabile Italmente". When in doubt, you can always use a generic "Buongiorno" or "Buonasera". That's a good way to be sure you're not making a mistake, although it sounds colder and less personal. Closing formulas are also very important. The formal option in Italian is "Cordiali saluti" or "Distinti Saluti". A more neutral option is simply "Saluti", while informally you can write "Un caro saluto".

  5. Be Polite This is a general rule for the Italian language, but it is important to mention it here since it is highly recommended to respect it in business settings. As in many other languages, desires and requests shouldn't be expressed too directly, otherwise they would sound rude. First of all, when expressing what you want, don't use "Voglio" or "Desidero", but rather "Vorrei" or "Desidererei". The condizionale tense dramatically softens the phrase and makes it adequate to a formal conversation. Secondly, when requesting or demanding something, don't use the imperative! For example, don't say "Dammi il computer", but rather "Puoi darmi il computer per favore?", or "Mi daresti il computer per favore?". Transforming the demand into a question through the use of the verb "Potere" and of the conditional tense is much more adequate to a polite conversation, while adding "Per favore" is very important and shouldn't be overlooked.

Mastering business Italian language etiquette is vital for anyone looking to succeed in the Italian business world. By understanding and adhering to the cultural and linguistic norms, you can build rapport, foster trust, and create lasting professional relationships. Remember to embrace formality, show respect, and pay attention to the subtle nuances of Italian business etiquette. With these key tips in mind, you can confidently navigate the complexities of the Italian business landscape, opening doors to exciting opportunities and achievements. Embrace the unique charm of Italian business culture and language, and let them guide you towards success in your professional endeavors.


In addition to the tips mentioned, it's important to stay adaptable and observant. Each business setting may have its own specific customs and expectations, so be open to learning and adjusting accordingly. Taking the time to understand and appreciate the Italian language and culture will not only enhance your professional relationships but also leave a lasting impression on your Italian counterparts.


To further support your journey in mastering business Italian language etiquette, consider enrolling in our specialized courses. Our experienced instructors will guide you through the intricacies of business communication, vocabulary, and cultural nuances, ensuring that you acquire the necessary skills to excel in your chosen field.


Remember, success in the Italian business world is not solely about language proficiency but also about building genuine connections and understanding the cultural context. By incorporating the tips and strategies discussed in this article, you will be well on your way to navigating the Italian business landscape with confidence and professionalism.


Take the leap and embrace the challenge of mastering business Italian language etiquette. Discover the opportunities that await you in the vibrant Italian business environment. With dedication, practice, and a deep understanding of Italian language and culture, you can unlock doors to new professional horizons and create a successful future.


Start your journey with our Italian language school today and embark on an enriching experience that will transform your business interactions in the Italian context.

In bocca al lupo! (Good luck!)

Learn Business Italian

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