‘Sorry I’m late, there’s a strike’. It’s hard to be on time in Italy and, sooner or later, there will be picket lines instead of public transport. Don’t sweat it too much, but do have the decency to apologise.
‘It’s a pleasure to meet you. Could I have your business card?’ Remember to use the formal ‘Lei’ when meeting colleagues and business contacts, especially for the first time. You can use the informal ‘tu’ once you’ve gotten to know them a little better, or for co-workers on the same level.
‘Will you ping me when you’re ready for the meeting?’ Just like English speakers are familiar with words like barista or graffiti, the Italian language has also been infiltrated by words from overseas. Use the verb pingare to mean ‘notify’ or ‘message’.
‘I’d like to take a week off in August’. Many Italian offices shut down completely for two weeks in August, so the boss may have already planned your vacation days for you. It’s worth checking.
‘Let’s have an update after a coffee’. The team’s caffeine levels often dictate its schedule. Help office productivity by holding briefings after a coffee break.
‘Today we have a business lunch with a very important client’. Clinch that business deal the Italian way, i.e. through the stomach.
‘Have you tried turning it on and off again?’ This one short phrase should solve most technical problems in the office, but for everything else you’ll need to chiama i tecnici (call the technician).
‘Did you hear what happened at the Christmas party? The boss was so drunk!’ The thrill of a good gossip crosses all cultural borders, so snitch on the boss and bond with your co-workers.
‘We’re behind schedule and the deadline for the project is coming up’. Get used to people and projects running late in the Italian office – tardiness is a way of life in the bel paese.
‘I can’t come in today, I have a fever’. Italians are inexplicably obsessed with body temperature, so be sure to use the magic word febbre when calling in sick. Notice there’s no apology either.