French Culture Communication, Negotiations and taboos

Taboos and Things to avoid in France
  • Presuming that all French should understand and speak English
  • Sitting legs apart
  • Use the informal version of “you” (tu) instead of the polite form “vous”
  • Calling people with their first names (not a taboo but may be considered informal in the first meeting)
  • Trying to refute a French person’s idea and prove him/her wrong
  • Losing temper when being asked questions by the French
  • Caring much about one’s ethnic background
  • Caring much about how much a person makes, one’s wealth
  • Showing off wealth
  • Doing the OK sign (by using the thumb and the index finger)
French Communication style
  • The French are less direct than their North European neighbors; however, they are definitely more direct than Asians, South Americans, South Europeans, and Middle Easterners. Therefore French people can be classified as direct and low-context communicators. According to Edward Hall, the following characteristics are usually seen in these types of societies:
  • People usually prefer direct, explicit and formal statements and requests
  • What you say is more important than how you say it
  • What is said is more important than who said it
  • People mean exactly what they say
  • Direct criticism: It is okay to criticize or reject one’s point in front of others (e.g. your performance is unacceptable)
  • People are frank and straightforward.
  • Conclusion/main point stated first followed by explanations (choose A because of reason 1, reason 2, reason 3)
  • Less time spent on relationship building and socializing and more time spent discussing details
  • Focus less on people & relationship building and focus more on the task
  • Rules, procedures and the evaluation criteria should be clearly identified at the beginning of a project instead of just following the “common sense”
  • Written communication is as important as or more important than face-to-face communication and face-to-face commitments
  • Business is done between companies not between individuals
  • Power distribution tends to be equal among a group of representatives
  • May need to be updated and/or clarified often during different phases of a project
  • Tend to be mono-chronic (one thing at a time, the present is more important than the past)
  • People do not need to read between the lines or observe the group understand what is going on
  • Work and social life are separate
  • The task, the procedure, and the protocol are more important than relationships, networks, and people
  • Tend to be egalitarian. Everyone’s opinion is important regardless of his/her background, social status, power, age, gender, etc.
  • The speaker has to be as direct and detailed as possible to make sure the listener can clearly understand everything
  • Conversations have few analogies, metaphors, and embellishments
  • Body language is less important than what is being said
  • Tend to be individualistic and value self-achievement /individual freedom
  • Use inductive logic (see a1, a2 and a3 then there must exist A)
  • Manuals have as much text as images
  • High transparency and information sharing within organizations
  • Only logic and facts should be used to make a decision
  • Business and friendships are separate things. OK to refuse a friend’s request regarding a business project.
French Negotiation Style
  • French are emotionally expressive and confrontational. The French tend to talk a bit more than their counterparts and often question various points the other party makes. As North Europeans, they care about logic, rationality and the EU laws. Dr. Lewis indicates that the French have a linear-active negotiation style that has the following characteristics:
  • Occasionally interrupts
  • Gets data from professional resources
  • Plans in advance and in detail
  • Does not display all kinds of feelings
  • Confronts with logic. Often asks questions.
  • Argues in a professional and diplomatic way
  • Each project is considered separately. Focuses on the current project.
  • Sometimes rushes things
  • Subtle body language and facially expressive
  • Does one thing at a time
  • Factual
Famous French Singers
  • Charles Aznavour
  • Jean-Jacques Goldman
  • Coeur de Pirate
Famous French Sports Teams
  • Paris Saint Germain (Soccer)
  • Olympique de Marseille (Soccer)
  • Bordeaux (Soccer)
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