How to understand the corporate culture in france

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Doing business with people from another country requires some finesse whether you are visiting their country or they are visiting yours. The French place a great deal of value upon courtesy,appearance and titles or class. If your goal is to successfully communicate, negotiate and build a professional relationship with your French counterpart, follow these helpful tips for understanding thecorporate culture in France.

Schedule meetings and appointments at least two weeks in advance. Many meetings take place over a meal, and lunch is a good time of day to schedule an appointment. Yourfirst point of contact will most often be the secretary.

Be punctual. The French have a more formal society based on class and title. If you are going to be late for an appointment or meeting, aphone call is required to inform as to the reason for your delay.

Apologize if you do not speak French. Most business people do speak English, but it is always a good idea to learn some of thekey phrases in the native tongue.

Shake hands when greeting and leaving. The French handshake is less firm than an American handshake. A light grip followed by a brief shake and eye contact iscustomary.

Dress appropriately. The French take pride in their appearance and typically dress conservatively but in well-tailored clothing. Avoid bright colors or flashy jewelry.

Be preparedfor lengthy meetings. The French consider this a time for debate, straight-forward questions and answers, and they frown upon high-pressured tactics or exaggerations. Meetings are the time for issuesto be discussed, not decisions to be made.

Maintain eye contact throughout a meeting. Exhibiting patience for protocol and hierarchy will be noticed and will surely progress the relationship byestablishing trust and respect.

Be aware of the volume of your voice. Becoming too loud can be offensive to the French. Many discussions can become intense, but the French enjoy the art of...
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