The way business is conducted in France is different than the way things are conducted here in the United States. The French are more relaxed. They focus on getting to know each other and appreciate the integrity and honor one possesses. “A French person trusts an individual according to an inner evaluation of the subject’s personality and character.” (Moran, p. 479) Whereas here, in the United States, I have noticed that business is conducted quickly and is executed more so on the promises and deliverables agreed upon. “Time isn’t only valuable when it comes to social events or meetings; it’s also important when it comes to your business activities. American culture is very results-oriented and likes to see companies and employees achieving their goals in a short period of time. Long-term goals, while important, need to be coupled with short-term strategy. The faster you can show results, the more you will impress.” (Garnier, 2017)
The French are not typically overwhelmed by competition, which can be both a good and bad thing. It is great if you’re confident in your work and know you are ahead of the game. However, if you are completely unaware of competition, you may lose out on a great business deal, promotion or lose out on a new client. “When confronted with an individual with a competitive drive, the French may interpret them as being antagonistic, ruthless, and power-hungry.” (Moran, p. 479)
Growing up I have heard many times that the French do not like Americans. However, having been to France and having worked with people in our France office, I do not think that is the case. I believe they just want to know that other people respect their culture. While in France I tried to speak the language and apologized for not knowing it so well. I would also repeat after them when they corrected me. I wanted to show that I was trying and embracing every bit of their culture while I was there. With that, came a sense of appreciation from them. You can tell in their smile and response they were grateful for it.
Moran stated, “the French are so proud of their language that they expect everyone to be able to speak it- visitors not fluent in that language are advised to apologize for lack of the knowledge and to learn a few key phrases and pronounce the words correctly,” (Moran, p. 479) which confirms the reaction of those who acknowledged that I was trying.
In comparing the top French executives to the top American executives, you will notice that the French executives focus more on their personal lives, what they have learned, what is important to them and their influences. The American executives focus more on accolades.
While the French culture is very different and may be deemed as difficult to navigate by an outsider, I find it very beautiful. Having grown up in the U.S., It is refreshing to see a culture who focuses on the influences and growth in life over trying to constantly get ahead.
Garnier, C. 2017, October 15. US Business Etiquette – 6 Tips for Doing Business in the US. Retrieved from https://spark-labs.co/us-business-etiquette-6-tips-for-doing-business-in-the-us/
Moran R., Abramson, N.R., Moran, S. ( 2014). Managing Cultural Differences, Ninth Edition. Roultedge, New York, NY.