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As part of The Local's JobTalk series professional etiquette expert Kara Ronin gives us ten points of business protocol to help you avoid giving the wrong impression. Whether its a simple handshake or an epic business lunch, professional protocol is serious business in France and it is, at times, very different to anywhere else in the world.
To help guide you through the minefield of French business customs, expert Kara Ronin, who runs her own company Executive Impressions in Lyon, has come up with ten points french business writing etiquette, that could help you land that all important job or clinch that crucial deal.
Formality is highly regarded in France. Many people from outside France find it difficult to get used to this level of formality. However, in order to make a great first impression in France, a high level of politeness is critical.
Introduce yourself using your first and last name. In a French business context, introductions are always made using both your first and last name.
At times, you may hear others introduce themselves with their last name first, followed by their given name. This is also acceptable in French business culture. Another tip is to use their name as much as you can in conversation, of course without sounding like a parrot in training.
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Use a brisk, light handshake. French style handshakes are known to be brisk and light. You should expect a loose grip with only one or two up and down movements. Be careful of this.
Similarly, if you use the stronger American style handshake with a firm grip and two or three movements, you could easily leave your French business associate feeling overpowered and inferior. First impressions in France are heavily dependent on appearance.
Quality business attire, jewellery and accessories will earn you valuable points in the office. You need to look like you mean business. Grooming is another important issue in France. Facial hair for men is not well received, particularly with superiors. Before that important business meeting get rid of that sneaky stubble.
Have one side of your business card in French. It always shows respect and courtesy for the other person when you have one side of your business card printed in French and the other in your native language. In France, people commonly write their family name in capital letters so that it stands out.
You should do the same. If you are interviewing in France, you will be remembered if you present to the interviewer your personal business card. If you attend networking events, you will always look organised if you use a professional business card case. Just make sure there is enough room for both your cards and for the cards that you will receive.
Keep your hands on the table at lunch.
The French business lunch is an experience in itself. Be ready for a style of dining that is formal and long. A very important rule in French dining etiquette is to keep your hands resting on the table, never on your lap. If wine is being served, remember the more you empty your glass, the more it will be topped up.
Business conversation generally starts after the dessert is served and it is up to the host to initiate it. Keep your professional and personal life separate.
In French business culture people prefer to keep their professional life and family life very much separate. This helps to maintain a consistent structure of formality in the workplace.
Avoid high-pressure sales tactics. French business people do not like to be pressured into making quick decisions.
If you are in a business meeting, be patient and expect a lot of discussion and exchange of information.
Decisions are generally not made on the first meeting.Gain skills in written English communications, business proposals and writing for the web. Develop your expertise in writing resumés, cover letters and reports. Writing a job letter (une lettre d'emploi) in French can be a challenge.
You need to be professional, but if you're still learning the language, this can be difficult to convey. You need to be professional, but if you're still learning the language, this can be difficult to convey. English is the language of business and communication, with French being an element of social distinction, chosen for its emotional value.
French writing, as with any language, is affected by the spoken language. an international organization for the promotion of French language and culture (in French) Agence de promotion du FLE. Writing a business letter in French is not easy. Read through a sample job letter, learn the formula you should use, and find tips for the opening.
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Exercises to prepare business French tests and examinations You will find on these pages exercises to prepare yourself to the business French language examinations (DFP, ).
You can use these exercises according to your current French level as they are based on the CEFR standard (levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 & C2).