Effective Communication: Partnership in Italy.
Melissa Chang was asked to travel to Venice, Italy and meet with her company’s partnering company. Preparation for the trip was stressful. Not only had her colleague cancelled their recent trip to Moscow at the last minute, making the US partner look bad, but the Italian partner had made several requests for information which none of Melissa’s colleagues had fulfilled. She learned all of this information upon making phone contact with their office to confirm her travel plans.
After that initial phone call, Melissa was not looking forward to the trip. She felt that her company had not upheld basic business standards, and adding a language barrier to the equation did not make things any smoother. She was very hesitant to make the trip and felt very guarded. She knew her Italian counterparts were frustrated and she could relate to their feelings. However, she also had a job to do – get more work out of them. If things did not get cleared up quickly, they could potentially lose the partnership. Melissa dreaded having to be the one to deliver that piece of news.
Once in Venice and face-to-face with the partners, Melissa quickly realized their source of frustration. From their perspective, the US partner had not upheld their end of the business deal by providing some basic product information. Melissa had that information with her and easily provided the files. She was able to answer all their questions and explain the business process in the US during the first meeting.
The second day of business meetings was even more productive. Melissa noted a change in her Italian counterparts’ disposition when she entered the office that second morning. They were much warmer and willing to sit down and discuss details. By lunch time, Melissa had information showing how much the Italian office had produced and where they were actually outperforming the US parent office. It was clear that their partnership was nowhere near being in jeopardy.
As the week drew to a close, both Melissa and the Italian partners drew up a projected plan for the next fiscal year. Italy was on track to set new sales records. Their requests for information were basic in her opinion, and Melissa was able to provide them accurate details before her departure. While a few of the finer points she did not understand fully due to the language barrier, Melissa felt reassured seeing firsthand how committed they were to the product. She could not find anything that would cause concern for their business transactions going forward. She chuckled to herself thinking how much she had dreaded this trip initially.
The Italians thought Melissa was a top businesswoman. Their appreciation was immeasurable. The president of the Italian office arranged a formal dinner in her honor. All employees attended with their families. Before dessert was served, he toasted Melissa’s professionalism during the entire week. The president noted her empathetic listening skills and ability to relate to their business needs as being critical to their future success. He also praised her for the quick actions and decisiveness she demonstrated during their meetings.
Answer the following questions:
Discuss how Melissa’s communication style impacted the performance of the Italian partners.
What do you think were the primary sources of information prior to Melissa’s visit?
What do you think the primary sources of information will be after Melissa’s visit?
What might account for Melissa’s change in attitude about dealing with the Italian partners after her visit?
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