The French adhere to a strong and homogeneous set of values. They cherish their culture, history, language and cuisine, which is considered an art. The French have been and are today world leaders in fashion, food, wine, art and architecture. They embrace novelty, new ideas and manners with enthusiasm as long as they are elegant. Meeting and Greeting
* At a business or social meeting, shake hands with everyone present when arriving and leaving. A handshake may be quick with a light grip. * Men may initiate handshakes with women.
* When family and close friends greet one another, they often kiss both cheeks. Names and Titles
* Use last names and appropriate titles until specifically invited by your French host or colleagues to use their first names. First names are used only for close friends and family. * Colleagues on the same level generally use first names in private but always last names in public. * Address people as Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle without adding the surname. * Madame is used for all adult women, married or single, over 18 years of age (except for waitresses, which are addressed as Mademoiselle.) * Academic titles and degrees are very important. You are expected to know them and use them properly. Body Language
* Do not sit with legs spread apart. Sit up straight with legs crossed at knee or knees together. Feet should never placed on tables or chairs. * Toothpicks, nail clippers, and combs are not used in public. * Keep your hands out of your pockets.
* Do not yawn or scratch in public. Sneeze or blow your nose as quietly as possible using a handkerchief or tissue. If possible, leave the room. * Do not slap your open palm over a closed fist (this is considered a vulgar gesture). * The "okay" sign, made with index finger and thumb, means "zero." * The French use the "thumbs up" sign to say "okay."
* Professionalism is highly valued in business and is the key to acceptance of outsiders. * France enjoys a skilled, well-educated labor force. Hard work is admired, but workaholism is not. * Be on time. The French appreciate punctuality.
* Give business cards to the receptionist or secretary upon arrival to an office and to each person you meet subsequently. Print cards in English or French. Include academic degree and/or title. * Many French speak and understand English, but prefer not to use it. An interpreter will probably not be necessary, but check ahead of time. Use French only for greetings, toasts and occasional phrases unless your French is perfect. * Government plays a major role in business. Find a local representative (banker, lawyer or agent) to help you through regulatory obstacles. * Business people tend to be formal and conservative. Business relationships are proper, orderly and professional. * Don't discuss personal life with business people. Personal lives are kept separate from business relationships. * The French get down to business quickly, but make decisions slowly after much deliberation. * Organizations are highly centralized with a powerful chief executive. Bosses are often dictatorial and authoritative * French are leaders in the area of economic planning. Plans are far-reaching and detailed. * Entering a room and seating is done by rank.
* Meetings follow an established format with a detailed agenda. * The French dislike disagreeing and debating in a public forum, but enjoy a controlled debate, whereby an informed rebuttal is appreciated. * The purpose of meetings is to brief/coordinate and clarify issues. State your intentions directly and openly. * Presentations should be well prepared, comprehensive, clear, well-written, informative and presented in a formal, rational, professional manner -- appealing always to the intellect. * The French dislike the hard sell approach.
* Things actually get done through a network of personal relationships...