How many of us envy those people who grew up or are growing up in bi or multilingual homes? Having the ability to switch and swap languages like changing channels on a TV makes some people green with envy or just smile at the sheer brilliance of it. Speaking a second, third, fourth or any number of other languages is to some people like some kind of magic and they wish they could do the same. For any number of reasons, people get the idea into their head that they will never speak another language, or believe that if they do, they will never use it. How wrong these people are.
Learning another language is more challenging for older people, it is a fact. Young developing brains soak up information and languages like a sponge and those who may seem like gifted children are merely using their brain as nature designed it. However, as an adult the brain still absorbs and retains information, and a language can be picked up with some ease albeit a little slower than a child. Don’t let age stop you from learning another language.
If you can learn a language, don’t then convince yourself that you will never use it. A second language is a wonderful thing to have. Speaking another language makes you more marketable as an asset in the career world and opens up new avenues of travel and adventure in your personal world. Knowing this should incentivise you to begin learning another language.
Language is still one of the most valuable assets a person can have. Pitching one accountant or salesman next to another, each with the same ability but with one being able to speak Italian for example, makes a difference. Job opportunities for people that speak another language increase and value to a prospective employee increases. Salaries are higher for roles where language or time in a foreign country is required and the extra income should be a wakeup call, especially in these tough times we face today.
The business use of a language is undeniably an asset, and companies that have native language speakers gain respect faster and business deals are signed that bit easier. The simple fact that someone speaks the language lifts the levels of respect considerably and no matter what anyone says, respect is still and always will be why business is done between people.
However, it is not just business where language is an asset. Travel and vacations with a language become more exciting and more of an adventure. A language will take you off the beaten track and away from the flocks of sheep-like tourists. The real country can be visited, speaking French can take you to where the French enjoy their vacations and the same is true with any language in any country.
A language will allow you to not just communicate and get directions but to blend in when away on your travels. Strangers, made stranger by not speaking English, can become lifelong friends and life becomes a great deal richer and fuller just by having control of a language.
Learning a language is all part of the fun, and once learnt, using it is more exciting than many people will dare to imagine. Once you have mastered a language, those people you once envied or admired, will not be seen the same again, you will be part of a special and wonderful group of people who can converse beyond your mother tongue. Contact VLLC if you would like to increase your employability by learning a new language.
Every country has its 'do’s', 'don'ts' and 'what on earth is that for’s' when it comes to business. Italy is no different and understanding basic Italian Business Etiquette, with a knowledge of the Italian language, can make life easier. Business success in any country is often only a signature away from understanding or appreciating some of the basics. Here is a little insight into some Italian Business Etiquette
Setting up a business meeting. Getting a meeting is one thing, making it count it is another altogether. With many Italian companies, especially ones you are new to, it is mandatory to make an appointment about 3 weeks in advance. This appointment should preferably be in Italian verbally, to ascertain the best time to meet, and in written Italian to confirm. Speaking Italian is vital and it makes learning Italian something any serious businessperson should really consider.
Pre-Meeting. Planning is essential and ensuring you have copies of all relevant documentation and presentations in both Italian and your language. This ensures all parties understand what is being presented and that there is no misinterpretation.
The meeting. Italians are very vocal, and interruptions to someone speaking are normal. Do not be surprised to find the entire room speaking at the same time. Understanding Italian will allow you to not only understand the multiple conversations, but also take control or make reference. Use last names and title until you are formally introduced and requested to speak on first name terms. Married women in business in Italy generally work with their maiden name.
Post meeting. Do not expect an answer to anything in your first meeting. Meetings are considered a discussion forum in Italy, and not so much a decision making moment. Italians take their time to come to a decision; with you being able to speak Italian, the chances of you getting business over someone who cannot are more favourable.
Read the cards. No, this is not some sort of psychic trick to get business but a sign of respect. Business cards are exchanged in most formal meetings and it is polite to take a moment, read the card and make eye contact with the person you received a card from. This simple gesture can set a positive tone for the meeting ahead. Another simple piece of advice is to have business cards translated into Italian.
Dress for success. Italy is a country where fashion, style and looking smart mean a lot. Make the effort to polish your shoes, press your shirt and if you don’t buy a new suit, at the very least ,have it dry cleaned. A formal and smart look makes a massive first impression for first meetings, and it will show you have made an effort and shows respect.
Doing business in Italy is about taking things slow, doing things with intent, and looking smart. As with most countries, politeness goes a long way. Above all, speaking Italian makes a favourable and lasting impression, and is one of the best ways to secure business in Italy.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.