Business Meeting

The higher the position within a larger organisation, the more formal will be the dress code

Business meetings and interactions, should stay focused on business and any discussions which are off topic that could infringe on personal privacy can be offensive

Common topics which you should therefore avoid unless invited to discuss these by your counterparts are: salary, age, their children and family

When meeting your French counterparts, try to lower your voice and generally behave in a more formal way

Traditions, formality and attention to detail are highly valued

Topics that show your appreciation of French culture, are welcome including: language, food, wine, politics and French history

Avoid gum chewing, snapping your fingers, or slapping your palm with your fist

Never make an okay sign with your fingers, as in France this symbol means nothing or zero. To show approval, simply raise your thumb

Despite the formality of most business exchanges, the French are quite physically affectionate with close colleagues

People tend to stand close when talking with one another, and touching an patting each other on the back or hand is not uncommon

Humour can easily be misinterpreted, depending on the situation, and the French tend to be amused by intellectual jokes, irony and situations from real life

First names are often used amongst peers, although surnames are often reverted to in more formal situations or when dealing with superiors

In a French business context, introductions are always made using both your first and last name

Know the French Business Model

Maintaining direct eye contact while speaking, makes for a good first impression, and correct posture and keeping your hands out of your pockets are musts

It is vital to ensure that you make appointments for both business and social occasions

It is not acceptable  to ‘drop in’ on someone unannounced and such conduct will be taken as an act of rudeness, whatever the occasion

Do not be surprised to find your French colleague arriving fairly late. The French consider this a prerogative, so do not expect any apologies

Ensure that all required attendees are aware of the meeting time and destination and that they have confirmed their attendance

If you are responsible for the meeting, ensure that the location is convenient for all parties, and that the meeting room facilities are of the highest standard

As meetings, will generally be conducted in French, interpreters are an important element where there are language barriers, and should be organised a number of weeks in advance prior to the meeting

All presentation material should if possible be bilingual unless you have agreed a common language such as English

If possible also prepare material in French or with some French references, as your French counterparts will be impressed with your attention to detail

Handshakes are expected as a form of greeting

Eye contact is important to show your trustworthiness and interest in the meeting

Constant eye contact such as staring is considered inappropriate, especially during a first business meeting

Smiling has no impact in communicating a greeting or as a sign of agreement

Expressive use of hands to communicate should be kept to a minimum in most conversations

As business people tend to be formal and conservative, business relationships are orderly and professional.

Keep the hierarchy in mind and this will help you maintain proper distance and contact

The use of first names can be interpreted as annoying and disrespectful to the French

Only use first name terms when you have been invited to do so and don’t expect that this will happen at all

One of the most important factors is careful planning and preparation, ensuring that all objectives and strategies have been set out and an agenda has been confirmed

Meeting agendas tend to be structured and fairly inflexible

It is anticipated that all attendees contribute to the discussion so it is important for you to be alert and prepared to share your views

Written communication of a meeting should be made both in English and in formal French, that is grammatically correct

The way a letter is written can impact on how a person is received, so it is vital to pay close attention to detail since a high importance will be placed on the accuracy of the letter