French business behaviour emphasizes courtesy and a degree of formality. Mutual trust and respect is required to get things done. Trust is earned through proper behaviour. Creating a wide network of close personal business alliances is very important. The way a French person communicates is often predicated by their social status, education level, and which part of the country they were raised. In business, the French often appear extremely direct because they are not afraid of asking probing questions. Written communication is formal. Secretaries often schedule meetings and may be used to relay information from your French business colleagues.
Business Meetings Etiquette
Appointments are necessary and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Appointments may be made in writing or by telephone and, depending upon the level of the person you are meeting, are often handled by the secretary. Do not try to schedule meetings during July or August, as this is a common vacation period. If you expect to be delayed, telephone immediately and offer an explanation. Meetings are to discuss issues, not to make decisions. Avoid exaggerated claims, as the French do not appreciate hyperbole.
French business emphasizes courtesy and a fair degree of formality. Wait to be told where to sit. Maintain direct eye contact while speaking. Business is conducted slowly. You will have to be patient and not appear ruffled by the strict adherence to protocol. Avoid confrontational behaviour or high-pressure tactics. It can be counterproductive. The French will carefully analyze every detail of a proposal, regardless of how minute. Business is hierarchical. Decisions are generally made at the top of the company. The French are often impressed with good debating skills that demonstrate an intellectual grasp of the situation and all the ramifications. Never attempt to be overly friendly. The French generally compartmentalize their business and personal lives. Discussions may be heated and…