Marco's Blog

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Talking With Your Hands

2005-04-29 2 min read Travel marco

Or: A Primer On Non-Verbal Communication

You’ve all heard that Italians talk with their hand. Now if that’s not a tourist-friendly way of communicating! Just learn to do as Italians do, and the language barrier is something for the myths of community college courses.

As any old culture, Italy has its very own style of communication. You will have a much better experience if you know what the little tell-tale signs are (gestures and actions), especially if you are not an extrovert person to begin with. I have had friends coming back telling me that they hadn’t met anyone in Italy, as much as they tried. But it turned out that they just had not known how to approach Italians.

Italians are fundamentally educated to be friendly and outwardly. It is considered to be extremely rude to show your back to anyone, since it creates a barrier to communication. Well-bred people (and that could include you, now) turn around in a restaurant and apologize to the neighboring table for showing their back. Cute, isn’t it?

The second bit of information that will turn out to be useful is that Italians prefer the step-by-step and give-and-take approach. This is particularly important in a romantic context, so watch for the little steps and answer them with equally small steps. Eventually, you’ll get to meet each other, and if you do it the Italian way, both parties will know that there is mutual interest.

Mind you: Italians will typically give up quickly if you do not respond to their signs. To an Italian, that would show lack of interest, and it is not in the nature of Italians to pursue someone that indicated disinterest. So if you are just being coy, or shy, or even just preoccupied; in the end, you’ll miss out.

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