>> French Business Communication Styles

The way in which you say something in France is almost as important as what is actually said.

There is a great love of and respect for elegance in the use of language and the sophisticated presentation of ideas is raised to an art form. A sense of national pride makes it difficult to listen to the language being spoken badly (or even worse to have to read poorly constructed French!) If you speak poor French, it may these days be better to do it in English.

Debate in France can often be seen as highly confrontational by those from a non-confrontational background. In France, the drawing of distinction is almost an intellectual goal – a goal which will help to move the process forward. Building on similarities is not seen as such a positive.

During discussions, interruptions will often occur, with other parties in the conversation joining in and emotions can seem to be running high. This animated, somewhat theatrical style is, again, viewed as conducive to reaching the end results.

The French admire the logical exposition of well defined ideas and when listening can be heard making such comments as – ‘it’s not logical’, which is a good indication that problems lie ahead. Such a comment might be more accurately interpreted as ‘I don’t see the logic of your argument, therefore I can’t buy it.’

Written business French is extremely stylised and formal with an etiquette which can seem anachronistic in translation. However, it is important that anything sent in writing is rigorously checked, as the ability to produce correct written language is seen as a sign of intelligence and good education.

Latest version updated:: 23rd March 2017

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