Doing business with the French requires more than just the knowledge of the language. It is imperative you know basic business standards of the country. Whilst they are only a channel away, we thought we should highlight some key differences when doing business with the French.
1. Organizational Structure:
French companies typically adopt quite hierarchical organisational structures, often creating delays due to obstacles in the flow of communication before implementing an idea, but at the same time making it easier to identify key decision-makers.
However, the UK tends to build holacratic structures to encourage more communication but can make it harder to target the right person to have the right business conversation with.
2. Communication Style:
The British more frequently use nuances, phrases, humour and indirect language to avoid conflicts or offensive narratives in their conversations. This helps to build bridges and overcome issues without hard feelings, but can also make it difficult to understand the true message of a brit and can lead the way toward a passive-aggressive attitude or relationship.
The French can be more straightforward and direct when they communicate. This can catch the ‘over-sensitive’ brit off-guard sometimes, but often the candour, transparency and charm of the French can also bring convenient truths to the table, helping everyone to identify exactly where they stand.
The decision-making process tends to have less bureaucratic tendencies in Britain (except for extremely large firms). Individuals decide within the extent of the power they have, the direction they think is best for the company. You can expect a relatively fast decision from the brits provided you are talking to the right person.
In France, the decision-making process can be slower as there tends to be more bureaucracy in place on average, but rest assured you are more likely to find a streamlined process of implementation once a decision has been reached.
4. Business Greeting Style:
The classic business greeting style is also a distinctive factor between the two business cultures. The French greeting style (informal or formal) includes both a handshake and the light, skin to skin kissing of cheeks when partners have a food, familiar rapport built already. The British businessman, who prioritize personal space, tends to avoid skinship action when meeting, just a handshake will suffice in a formal setting and the culturally appropriate greeting when meeting someone informally.
Don’t overthink it, you’ll find that despite any differences, the French appreciate people who have relatable personalities and a strong desire to carry out the particulars of a deal. Have a read about some similarities, you should find some quite interesting.