At this very moment I’m across the pond being captivated by the beauty of France. In addition to visits to cultural landmarks, tours of the most beautiful landscapes, and dining at divine restaurants, I’ve also been to visit several different companies. We’ve been to see the French Fashion Institute, Hermes, and Peugeot and are set to see many more.
On these visits I’ve noticed some serious cultural differences in conducting business that any aspiring public relations professional will want to know if they’re considering doing business abroad.
In the United States, “business casual” is generally the norm and “business formal” is saved for fancier occasions. In France, “business formal” is the norm and the French take great pride in how they dress. Americans always need to look their most professional and very best when doing business in France.
The French look at Americans as “always in a hurry”. If you’re going to do business with the French, you need to be prepared to slow down and go at their pace or you’ll risk looking too aggressive.
In France, it’s common to use ‘terms of endearment’ in business conversation. You’ll hear “mon cheri” used and at first thought it may seem sexist or politically incorrect. The French don’t view it that way and it’s best to just accept the cultural adjustment.
It’s your job as an American business-person and PR professional to be prepared for the cultural differences you’ll face when doing business abroad. France is just a drop in the bucket of cultural clash.
What are some other cultural differences you can think of? We want to know!