Intercultural experience in Italy

Italy

During the holidays, I had the pleasure of spending some time in Italy. As some of you will know, at the seaside, you cannot bathe everywhere you want (you would have thought the sea is for free). You have the choice of either paying for a “bagni” or you desperately try to find a spot where you can plant your umbrella and sit (and swim) together with many other happy holiday makers.

Well, one day, I chose to pay for a bagni as I did not want to look around for something else (33 degrees Celsius is a bit too much for me for being adventurous). Normally, prices are indicated at the entrance, of course all in Italian with various exceptions and possibilities (like two chairs second row; or one cabin two chairs an umbrella and first row etc.). At this very bagni there were no prices written down but it looked nice, so I decided to try my luck. As I speak a little Italian, I thought that I should easily be able to get what I wanted… but no, I wasn’t as it turned out.

Here’s why: first, I met the “bagnino” or bath attendant. He told me that I had to pay 25 EUR for a day to be somewhere in the third or fourth row. He must have seen my incredulous face as I nearly swallowed what I was eating, as he then told me that the “capo” was coming… here I noticed that unfortunately there was a gap in my knowledge as I did not watch the “Godfather”, hence had no idea what “capo” meant. Quickly, I understood though, as another man was approaching who definitely looked like the boss of the bagni. He waved me in and made me wait in front of his little cabin, where he first had to take a phone call. Mindful as I am I decided not to run away but patiently waited for my interlocutor to come back to me. I then repeated my question and to my great astonishment, suddenly the price had dropped to 20 EUR. Being accustomed to travel and different cultures I then began to negotiate and finally got my spot for 18 EUR. Very proud of myself, I finally settled down at the beach…

And the moral of the story? Even as an intercultural communications expert you encounter situations that are not quite as you would have  expected them to be. Being open and mindful definitely helps overcoming obstacles and learning from the experience!

Thanks for reading and please follow me to learn more about mindful leadership & intercultural communications on a regular basis. Don’t hesitate to ask for online coaching as well, the digital age makes everything possible!

Jenny

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