When conducting business with individuals from other countries and cultures, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the proper business etiquette that is required for such interactions. In many cases, hand gestures that have one meaning in the United States have a very different meaning in other cultures. Furthermore, engaging in behaviors that might typically be considered proper or even friendly in the United States may be considered insulting in another country. Making these mistakes can have devastating effects on your business as well as on your reputation within the international business community. By learning about the proper etiquette for each country in which you conduct business, you can avoid these pitfalls and ensure your business enjoys ongoing success with your international business partners and clients. For an example, consider the French business etiquette.
The French can sometimes come across as unfriendly or stuffy, but this is largely due to the fact that they adhere to protocol when conducting business. This means engaging in formal communication and placing a high priority on punctuality. Therefore, if you wish to have a business meeting, be sure to schedule an appointment and to show up on time.
Enjoy a Business Dinner
In France, it is quite normal to conduct a business meeting over a long meal. While participating in this business dinner, it is important that you show how much you enjoy the food. This means sampling what is offered to you and complimenting the food. It is also important to note that it is quite common for the French to enjoy a glass of wine during a business dinner, but this should not be mistaken as a social gesture.
Shaking Hands and Eye Contact
Just as in the United States, it is customary to shake hands upon meeting someone in France. Whereas handshakes are expected to be firm in the United States, however, they are not supposed to be firm in France. In addition, the French maintain a shorter body distance than in the United States. While this might be considered “invading personal space” in the U.S., the French find it to be a more warm and open greeting. Acting overly friendly, however, will be regarded as bad taste and an indicator of poor upbringing. On the other hand, eye contact among the French is far more intense and, for an American, can seem intimidating.
When it comes to name usage, the French frequently introduce themselves by their last name followed by their first name.This can be confusing to Americans at first, particularly if you are not familiar with the culture and French names, but understand that it may take some time before your French business associates address you by your first name. Similarly, you should address them as Mr. or Ms. until they invite you to address them by their first names.
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(all data current as of 11/20/2017)
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