A Comparison of The Similarities and Differences in Interpersonal Communication of Italians and Americans

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About this sample


Words: 727 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Oct 4, 2018

Words: 727|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Oct 4, 2018

Italian Interpersonal Communication

Italy is a very high context culture; they learn more from nonverbal and environmental cues than spoken words. They have a very relaxed concept of time, use many hand gestures and haptics, live by Bella Figura, and share a listening style similar to that of the United States.

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The chronemics of Italian culture is very relaxed and laid-back. It is known as a polychronic culture, which views relationships and quality interaction as more important than a strict schedule. In other words, there really is no set time schedule, rather, things get done when one has time to do them. Many things are done spontaneously, meaning that multitasking is also a big part of Italian culture. Italians do take great pride in social interactions and may set aside an entire day for conversations between friends. Many tasks continue until they are finished and they may not finish at a consistent time. It is acceptable to arrive fifteen minutes late to a scheduled event; it is not important when a meeting happens, rather, it is more important that the meeting is enjoyable for all those involved. Along with having a relaxed feel of time, Italians differ in greetings and haptics from Americans.

Italians rely heavily on haptics when communicating; in fact, they are able to communicate without using words at all. For example, the word “what” has an equivalent hand gesture of connecting all the fingers on one hand to form a beak shape then moving that hand back and forth. Additionally, the hand gesture for representing closeness between two friends is holding both hands together in a grip between fingers with one hand facing up and the other facing down. Italy’s culture is known for its greetings. Embracing an acquaintance in a hug and kissing them on the cheek or a handshake and light grip on the arm is the customary way of greeting. Out on the streets, it is not uncommon for people to push and shove through crowds or witness men and men or women and women linking arms while walking together. Though many components of interpersonal communication in Italy differs from America, Italians and Americans share similar ideas in self-presentation.

Presentation and first impressions are very important to Italians. This complex is known as Bella Figura, or beautiful presentation or figure. It refers to the well-dressed and fashion conscientiousness of Italians; in fact, simple, elegant clothes are normal attire in Italy. It is not uncommon for Italians to judge and be judged by their clothes, shoes, and accessories. They hold very high standards for dress and believe that swim suits, skimpy tops, and flip flops are meant to be worn strictly at beaches and swimming pools. If worn anywhere else one is thought of as shameless and as someone who has no self-respect. Bella Figura doesn't only apply to appearance, but it also applies to the way one carries them self; it is somewhat similar to the concept of face on that regard. One way to show confidence in both Italian and American culture is by maintaining eye contact. Eye contact is used to depict how honest someone is and at times may be intense, but it is considered rude and may suggest the listener is uninterested in what the speaker has to say if eye contact is broken.

In addition to eye contact, Italians and Americans share similar listening styles. The ways in which people show interest is by maintaining eye contact, raising eyebrows, leaning in, and smiling. This kind of listening shows they are mindfully listening and creating a good communication climate. This can be compared to ways in which we try to avoid conversation by averting eyes, crossing arms, leaning back, and closing our mouths. These characteristics set up a bad communication climate and suggest individuals are not attempting to listen mindfully. These concepts show how different yet similar American and Italian culture are.

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Italy's high context culture allows people to consider the entire context of conversation as opposed to limiting it to the words. Italians live in a very laid back culture and use many hand gestures and haptics while communicating and believe in the importance of Bella Figura. Though there are differences between Italian and American culture in communication, we share a universal listening style. This goes to show we need not have a high-strung frantic culture in order to have effective communication.

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A Comparison of the Similarities and Differences in Interpersonal Communication of Italians and Americans. (2018, October 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
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