Italians enjoy talking, discussing topics of interest and are full of creative ideas. They find it easy to chat with new acquaintances as well as life- long friends. In fact there is rarely a moment of silence in the course of a conversation in Italy with people jumping in with new ideas or thoughts. Italians often feel uncomfortable with silence – a fact that can be used to great effect during negotiations!
You will be expected to “jump in” with your thoughts and opinions too rather than stand on ceremony and wait to be asked.
It is worth, however remembering that if the conversation is in English rather than in Italian that you should adapt your speech accordingly e.g. slow down, don’t use jargon or sporting phrases that are unlikely to be understood by your Italian colleagues.
On the other hand if the conversation is in Italian you might find the use of dialects difficult to understand. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your Italian colleague to speak only in Italian.
Welcome Topics of Conversation
Italian art and films
Sports, especially soccer
Italian food and wine
Italian countryside and landscape
Praising the hospitality you're receiving
Culture, history and current affairs in your home country
Topics to Avoid
Religion/the Vatican and its policies
World War II
Making “off-colour” jokes or in fact any discussion on sex – it is considered private
Criticizing Italian culture, even if your Italian counterparts are doing so
Criticizing Italian inefficiencies, especially if your Italian counterparts are doing so
Negative Italian stereotypes
Inquiring about the profession or income of someone you've just met
Questions about private family concerns
Negative comments about the local soccer team
Implying that Italians from the North, Centre or South of Italy behave in the same way. Italians value the differences and there is a strict order of who each area thinks is best. This is a bit of a minefield – it is better to stay well out of it!