We offer in-house Italian, Spanish, English & French business language training at your office in Greater London or online worldwide
Languages Alive is flexible and strives to meet your expectations and needs. We adapt to your own timetable and give you the best solutions to your requests.
Our language business courses will assure your employees will master the language and will be aware of the cultural communication differences giving them the tools to avoid communication failure and be successful in achieving their goals.
Our lessons are innovative, include a great deal of cultural awareness which avoids communication failure in business.
Closing a deal with a foreign client will be much easier if the client’s language is spoken and if their customs and traditions are well understood.
Our Courses and Lessons
Language and cultural awareness
Speaking a foreign language and cultural awareness will definitively give you a distinctive advantage over your competitors
Formal speech in Latin America and the importance of social hierarchy
In Latin America, when speaking Spanish the use of “Usted” (You formal) is a sign of respect and it is a must when there is not a close relationship, even more than in Spain. Not using the appropriate personal pronoun in this case “Usted” is regarded as lack of politeness.
In some countries such as Mexico not using this pronoun properly might be interpreted as a sign of arrogance and pretentiousness. On the contrary, the English language does not even have a “you” formal; therefore, the conversation requires the use of titles such as Doctor or Professor to make it more formal. However, Anglo-Saxon countries maintain a different approach to power distance than most of Latin American countries where power and authority are seen as facts of life and are hardly challenged.
These countries teach their members consciously and unconsciously that people are not equal in this world and that everyone has their own place in a rigid social hierarchy.
On the other hand, Anglo-Saxon countries and not only, believe inequality in society should be minimised; to them, a social hierarchy is an inequality of roles established for convenience. Subordinates and superiors are seen as the same kind of persons, as a matter of fact, politicians in high power positions often interact with their constituents and try to look less powerful than they really are in order to minimise the power gap. In terms of business this can mean that the person in a higher power position could perceive dealing with a junior member of the team as a lack of respect.
American versus Japanese negotiations
As the United States is pretty much an individualist society and Japan is a collective one, negotiations can be quite challenging and can cause serious conflict. An individualistic culture relies on an individual responsibility for making decisions, whilst in a collective oriented culture this can be significantly different.
Americans too often expect their Japanese counterparts to make decisions right at the negotiating table, and the Japanese are surprised to find individual members of the American team endorsing their own positions, decisions and ideas, at times openly contradicting one another. (Foster, 1992, p267).
In addition, as the Japanese culture tend to have a high level of anxiety towards uncertainty, whilst the Americans can cope well with it, the negotiations can be tricky. The Japanese will need written rules, a strong meeting structure, planning, and regulations put in place and they will also need to evaluate the risk factor in depth.
Conversely, in United States people accept more easily the uncertainty inherent in life and are not threatened by diverse people or ideas, so in a few words they tolerate the unusual and are less tense and more relaxed towards life. In the negotiation process, Americans would be embracing the risk much easily than the Japanese.
As Harris and Moran (1996, p.217) point out, “In light of their history, their perceptions of their rugged individualism, and the rewards of capitalism, Americans have embraced risk and are not risk avoidant”
Introducing your business idea to an Italian business.
The best way to put forward a business proposal is to be introduced by somebody who already knows people in the company; otherwise, an email following a phone call is preferred.
Meetings take place typically at the company’s office in late morning or early afternoon. Italians tend to be multitasking, so remain unruffled when experiencing interruptions.
Business meeting etiquette in Italy
Italians as most of Southern Europeans are relationship oriented; they prefer to establish long term business relationships based on mutual trust.
Showing emotions and sharing strong opinions whilst debating represent for Italians a sign of interest in the business itself. On the contrary, an emotional detachment indicates a lack of concern and involvement in the business negotiations. Trust is essential to close a business deal with Italians as a relevant exchange of information about a specific business proposal.
Meetings are used to further study the business proposal rather than closing the deal immediately. Therefore, they are more analysis-oriented than decision-oriented.
The objective of the first meeting is often to exchange information and details about the business proposal, but first of all, is about creating a climate of reciprocal respect and loyalty.
Italian business dress code
Formal attire is usually expected at business meetings with both women and men wearing mostly dark colours. Businesswomen tend to wear elegant trousers or skirt suits combined with simple accessories; make up is light, but always present.
In small businesses outside financial circles, more informal clothing is also accepted, however, to be on the safe side, it is advisable to wear coordinated clothes bearing in mind that Italy is a prominent hub of European fashion design and production and casual can mean smart and chic.
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