If you’re planning on doing business in France, whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, consider these important etiquette tips.
France’s economy was one of the most impressive in Europe in 2019. In the third quarter, it grew even faster than its neighbor, Germany.
If that growth continues, you may find yourself doing business in France soon. But business customs in France are different than in the United States. You don’t want to do anything to embarrass yourself.
Keep reading for three tips that will help you ace business etiquette in France.
Don’t Expect Working Lunches
In America, it’s common to stick a frozen dinner in the break room microwave, then go back to your desk and eat it. But if you’re going to open a business a France, you should get prepared to take an hour or two off for lunch every day. Lunch is about treating yourself.
Fast-casual dining isn’t exactly popular in France the way it is in the United States. Meals s are deliberately paced. For people on vacation, the best Paris tours involve great food and lots of time to eat it.
Don’t rest your hands on your lap while dining in France. They should go on the table.
What about French wine? It may sound weird, but if you’re done drinking it, leave some in your wine glass. If it’s empty, it will get refilled.
Lunch is about relaxing. Learning a few basic French phrases may help you feel a bit more at ease.
Avoid the Hard Sell
In America, it’s common to use phrases like “This deal won’t last long” if you’re looking to persuade someone. Not everyone likes this method, but it’s popular in the world of business.
But the rules are different when you’re doing business in France. Acting like a used car salesman is rude in all situations. Don’t push someone to make a decision quickly.
The French are not as obsessed with getting things done in a fast, efficient manner. They want details and specific information before they decide.
This is good in a lot of ways. But it can feel disconcerting if you’re used to a more fast-paced, American way of business.
Get Ready for Questions and Interruptions
While the decision-making process may not feel direct, the conversational style often will. It sounds confusing, but business customs in France mean you’ll probably get asked a lot of blunt questions.
They’re trying to get information about a project. It’s not an attempt to act rude. It’s an attempt to get informed.
Interruptions also don’t merit an apology the way they do in America. They’re just a normal part of the flow of conversation. In fact, someone interrupting can mean they’ve got an urgent question because they’re just that interested.
If the discussion feels heated, don’t worry too much. That’s not a violation of business etiquette in France the way it might be in other places.
Doing Business in France
If you’ve never been to France before, then doing business in France can feel confusing at first. But keep the above tips in mind, and remember that all handshakes should be light, not firm.
Before you go, make sure everything’s squared away at home. Read our blog post on securing your home to learn more.