american-in-france-on-business

If you’re from the USA and work with the French, then it’s a good idea to understand the culture.

French people are incredibly proud of their heritage and cultural identify.

Understanding the most important cultural differences will help you make the best impression possible.

As an added bonus you'll also avoid some common cultural faux pas!

In this blog, we've got some insights and tips for Americans doing business with or working with the French.


Don't miss out!

Free Guide to French Culture & Etiquette.

Link at the end of the page.


Below, we’ve captured 3 cultural differences which will help you understand to your French colleagues, customers or clients.


1. French business culture tends to be formal

Formality plays a far more important role in French business culture, than it does in American business culture.

The way in which you do or say things is just as important as what is said.

French people tend to be careful with their words and to value eloquent delivery.

Formality is evident across the business setting including, for example, in the way people dress. The French are recognised as people who take appearances seriously and the value placed on style and fashion is reflected in the high regard placed on business dress. The relaxed approach to business wear in American business is not reflected in France.

The emphasis on formality, also extends to bureaucracy, rules and regulations; meaning that adherence to established business processes are far more important in French business culture than they might be in American business culture.

Tips


American business woman in Paris

If you're visiting France on business, then you need to understand local expectations around business meetings.

Click here to learn more about business meetings in French business culture

Photo by Atikh Bana on Unsplash


2. French business culture is hierarchical

It’s fair to say that French business culture is far more hierarchical than it is in the USA.

This is reflected in the tendency for managers and leaders to be more authoritative than their American counterparts.

Business meetings, for example, tend to be less about reaching consensus on business topics and more about opportunities for managers to sign off decisions that have already been made.

 

Tips


3. Decisions in the workplace are rooted in logic and certainty

Education is extremely important in France, often trumping merit.

This is played out in the value placed on eloquence and presenting a strong argument.

Unlike Americans, the French place far more emphasis on data gathering, analysis and the final planning phases.

Decision making is data driven and based on the strength of argument and the likely success of long- term outcomes.

Tied to the value placed on logic is the lack of tolerance in French business culture for uncertainty.

In the workplace, the French tend to avoid ambiguity and rarely take risks without a sound and robust rationale.

 

Tips


sunset eiffel tower

The business culture in France is conservative & traditional.

Click here to read more about French management culture

Photo by Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash


The French Language

Before we summarise, it’s important to note that the cultural differences outlined should be considered against a more general backdrop of the French language.

French people tend to be very proud of their language and prefer to operate in the French language.

If you don’t speak French, then you should at least learn a few basic greetings. You should also have any materials translated into French and consider the use of an interpreter.


Learning Summary

To summarise, if you work with the French, it’s essential that you acknowledge the influences of...


...on the workplace and that you adapt your style as necessary to make the best impression possible.


Get Expert Help

Commisceo culture webinars

 

If you want to learn more about the business culture in France, then why not take part in a live, interactive training webinar with one of our business experts?

Webinars are tailored to meet learners’ needs and cover all business topics relating to areas such as negotiations, marketing, sales, team building and leadership.

 



* When referencing "American culture" in this blog, we are referring to culture within the USA.


Main photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels