Meeting Etiquette

The handshake is a common form of greeting.

Friends may greet each other by lightly kissing on the cheeks, once on the left cheek and once on the right cheek.

First names are reserved for family and close friends. Wait until invited before using someone’s first name.

You are expected to say ’bonjour’ or ’bonsoir’ (good morning and good evening) with the honorific title Monsieur or Madame when entering a shop and ’au revoir’ (good-bye) when leaving.

Relationships & Communication

French business behaviour emphasizes courtesy and a degree of formality.

Trust is earned through proper behaviour.

Creating a wide network of close personal business alliances is very important.

If you do not speak French, an apology for not knowing their language may aid in developing a relationship.

It is always a good idea to learn a few key phrases, since it demonstrates an interest in a long-term relationship.

The way a French person communicates is often predicated by their social status, education level, and which part of the country they were raised.

In business, the French often appear extremely direct because they are not afraid of asking probing questions.

Written communication is formal. Secretaries often schedule meetings and may be used to relay information from your French business colleagues.

Business Meetings Etiquette

Appointments are necessary and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance.

Appointments may be made in writing or by telephone and, depending upon the level of the person you are meeting, are often handled by the secretary.

Do not try to schedule meetings during July or August, as this is a common vacation period.

If you expect to be delayed, telephone immediately and offer an explanation.

Meetings are to discuss issues, not to make decisions.

Avoid exaggerated claims, as the French do not appreciate hyperbole.