How to Conduct Business in France: Dos and Don’ts

Address others using Monsieur or Madame

When addressing someone you do not know well, it is best to use Monsieur or Madame followed by their last name. For example, if you are speaking to a woman named Anne Dupont, you would say “Madame Dupont.” If you are addressing a man named Pierre Martin, you would say “Monsieur Martin.”

If you know the person well enough to use their first name, then you can drop the Monsieur or Madame and simply use their first name. For example, if Anne Dupont was your close friend, you could say “Anne” instead of “Madame Dupont.” The same goes for Pierre Martin – if he was your close friend, you could say “Pierre” instead of “Monsieur Martin.”

In general, it is best to err on the side of formality when addressing others in France. This shows respect and good manners. When in doubt, stick with Monsieur or Madame followed by the person’s last name.

Introduce yourself using your first and last name

Hello, my name is ____________. I am a ___________ living in France. I am originally from ___________ and I have been living in France for ___________ years. I have a ___________ degree from the University of ___________ and I am currently working as a ___________ at a French company. In my free time, I enjoy ______ and ______.

My name is John Smith and I am an American citizen living in France. Originally from New York, USA, I have been living in Paris, France for 4 years now. After completing my undergraduate degree in International Business at the University of Southern California, USA,I decided to pursue a career in the international business sector by working for a French company. In my free time,I enjoy playing tennis and exploring new restaurants around Paris.

Use a brisk, light handshake

When shaking hands with someone, it is important to use a brisk, light handshake. This shows that you are confident and in control. A firm handshake is also a sign of respect.

Learn French gestures

When you travel to a new country, it’s always helpful to learn a few key phrases in the local language. But what about learning some of the non-verbal cues that are just as important in communication? In France, gestures play a big role in everyday life, and understanding them can help you avoid potential misunderstandings (or at least get a good laugh). Here are some of the most common French gestures and what they mean.

Shaking your head side to side can mean “no” in many cultures, but in France it actually means “yes.” To indicate “no,” French people shake their heads up and down.

The “OK” sign – thumb and first finger forming a circle – is understood around the world, but did you know that making this gesture with your palm facing down is considered offensive in France? The same goes for sticking your tongue out between your teeth (it’s called la langue de bois or “wooden tongue” and is used to make fun of someone). A better way to say “OK” is by holding up your index finger with the other fingers extended – sort of like a mini version of the Statue of Liberty’s torch.

If you want to get someone’s attention, don’t call their name – just whistle. Whistling is perfectly acceptable (and effective) in France. Just be careful not to whistle indoors – it’s considered very bad manners. And if you do whistled indoors by accident, simply apologize by saying excusez-moi or pardonnez-moi (excuse me/pardon me).

Wear quality business attire, even if it’s Friday

In France, dressing for success is a must, no matter what day of the week it is. Whether you’re meeting with clients or simply going into the office, it’s important to always look your best. This means wearing quality business attire that is appropriate for the occasion.

While jeans and a t-shirt might be acceptable in some workplaces in other countries, this would never fly in France. If you want to be taken seriously in the business world here, you need to dress the part. Even on Fridays, when casual dress is more common in many offices around the world, it’s still important to look sharp and put-together in France.

So what should you wear? For men, a suit and tie are always a good bet. If you don’t need to wear a suit jacket, consider opting for a well-tailored blazer instead. And make sure your shoes are polished and clean – scuffed up sneakers are definitely not appropriate here.

As for women, there is more flexibility when it comes to what to wear. A tailored dress or skirt and blouse combo always looks professional, or you could go for slacks and a nice top if that’s more your style. Just make sure whatever you choose is tasteful and not too revealing – remember that less is definitely more when it comes to workwear in France.

Have one side of your business card in French

When doing business in France, it is important to remember that the French place a high importance on formality. This means that you should take care to present yourself and your business in a professional manner. One way to do this is to make sure that you have one side of your business card in French. This sends the message that you are willing to make an effort to communicate with your French counterparts in their language, and shows respect for their culture. Additionally, it is important to remember that the French tend not be as direct as Americans when doing business. They may use more indirect language, or hint at what they want rather than coming out and saying it directly. This can take some getting used to, but it is important not to mistake this for disinterest or lack of knowledge about the topic at hand. Finally, always remember to dress formally when meeting with potential clients or partners in France – even if the weather is warm! Casual dress will not be seen as appropriate in most business settings.

Keep your hands on the table at lunch

If you are dining with business associates in France, it is considered good manners to keep your hands on the table at lunch. This shows that you are relaxed and comfortable with the situation. It also allows your fellow diners to see what you are eating and how much you are enjoying it. If you need to use your hands during the meal, be sure to do so discreetly.

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