7.0 Culture/Etiquette

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Culture

Most of us, if not all of us, have heard these French sayings before:

Savoir vivre "know how to live life"
Joie de vivre "joy of living"
C’est la vie "accept life as it comes"

  • The French embrace life as it is, as we can see in their artisanal approach towards life – from the terroir expressed in their wines, to the smell of fresh pastries as you walk down the streets
  • The word “culture” actually comes from France! The word “culture” derives from the Latin “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow; cultivate and nurture (How suiting!)
  • France is known for its art, history, fashion, cuisine, wine, romance, and so much more
  • The French believe in égalité (equality), and it is part of the country’s motto: “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”
  • France has a population of 65 million. The nation is multiethnic and multicultural, but holding data on different ethnicities is illegal, so it’s uncertain the exact percentage of the population that each group comprises
  • A deep love and admiration for the arts is widespread throughout France. Children are taught to appreciate art and to be patient at a young age, because quality work takes time to produce.
  • A person generally follows this appreciation throughout their lifetime
  • In France, a popular belief is that shop owners and chefs should receive respect for their talents
  • The world-renowned restaurant rating system Michelin Star has been established in France for example
  • Many hobbies, professions and day-to-day activities are seen as art. For example, meals take a significant amount of time to prepare and are slowly consumed as a way of respecting and enjoying the art

Etiquette

Etiquette

  • The word “etiquette” comes from the French, so it’s no surprise that etiquette and manners play a key role when socializing in France
  • If you meet a stranger, always add monsieur or madame, for example, “Excusez-moi, madame,” when asking for help
  • Handshakes are common when meeting
  • Friends usually greet each other with a light kiss on both cheeks
  • First names are typically used with close friends and family
  • When entering a shop, you are expected to say “bonjour” or’ bonsoir’ (good morning/good evening) with the honorary title Monsieur or Madame, and ‘”au revoir.”
  • Tip: The French don’t say bonjour twice! Saying bonjour twice implies you forgot you’d already seen them. If you run into someone again in the same day, you can simply say "salut," which also means hello.

Eating

  • Throughout France, table manners are highly valued
  • Dishes are expected to be passed around and held while the next person retrieves some of the meal
  • They typically say “bon appétit” (enjoy your meal) before a meal
  • Don’t talk with food in your mouth
  • To indicate you have finished eating, place your cutlery together in the center, or to the right of the plate
  • Guests are normally not expected to share the bill at a restaurant
  • Three meals: le petit déjeuner (breakfast), le déjeuner (lunch), and le dîner (dinner). Dinner is the biggest meal of the day, often spent with family
  • Meals involve various courses, usually including an entree, the main, cheese, and dessert. The French take their time to eat their meal during each course
  • Another common type of meal enjoyed is the “apéro” (l’apéritif ), a conversation-filled pre-dinner drink with finger foods
  • The apéro can last 30 minutes to 3 hours
  • If you’re invited to an apéro, the best thing to do is bring something gourmet
  • For starters, it would be appropriate to bring olives, fresh bread, or cheese
  • In French cuisine, wine plays a significant role
  • It is often consumed with meals, and people tend to evaluate the flavour and quality
  • The higher quality the wine, the more in-depth the evaluation
  • If you don’t want any more wine, it’s customary to leave your glass pretty full so your host knows. Failure to accept the customs associated with wine is known as a lack of manners
  • Leaving food on a plate is usually frowned upon, particularly when it’s in someone’s home
  • Each meal course tends to take a long time to prepare. (Art!) Thus, one demonstrates gratitude for the person’s cooking efforts through the meal’s enjoyment and completion

Business Culture/Etiquette in France

Suggestions for doing business in France 

  • The French may want to voice every possible objection during negotiations Responding to every single comment is not necessary. French conversational habits promote all viewpoints to be expressed, even though they are not crucial to the outcome 
  • Apologize for not speaking French before you ask for directions, help or simple information 
  • Before attending a formal French dinner, be sure to learn proper dining etiquette, as well as all the names of the utensils 
  • Understand the seven courses in a Parisian restaurant, the order they come in i.e. soup, fish, sorbet, meat or fowl, salad, dessert, coffee  
  • Expand your knowledge on French wine!   
  • Never cut the point off the brie 
  • The best part of the brie is in the center, as less rind and more cheese are present 
  • Leaving only the edge of the brie wheel, which is usually heavier on the rind, is disrespectful for the next diner 
  • "How can you be expected to govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese?""” Charles de Gaulle 

Government 

  • France is a multiparty republic  
  • The prime minister is the head of the government, and the chief of state is the president 
  • The French people elect the president as well as the two houses of parliament 
  • The president, who appoints the prime minister, will serve five years 
  • The president retains a significant share of the power, including the right to dissolve Parliament’s lower house, the Assemblée Nationale, and call for new elections. 
  • According to the constitution, national policy is determined by the government and not by the president 

Languages 

  • The French are very proud of their language which for centuries had been the international language of diplomacy 
  • State ruling classes as distant as Russia and Mexico spoke French in addition to their native tongues
  • It’s advised you apologize if you cannot speak French, because for the French, you are in France and should know French 
  • Many French business people speak English but prefer to have their meetings conducted in French 

Cultural Guidance 

Intellect – How the French perceive and use information 

  • The French will readily consider information for debate purposes and may quickly change their minds, but strong ethnocentrism does not allow something contrary to cultural standards to be accepted 
  • They approach data from an analytical and logical viewpoint 
  • They see each situation as a unique issue, and they bring all their experience to work on it 

Strategies for negotiation – What the French take to be proof, affirmation, and authentication 

  • Arguments tend to be made using eloquent rhetorical humour and logic from an analytical, and critical viewpoint 
  • There is a great love for debate, aiming for effect rather than clarity and image over facts. Feelings and faith may become part of the rhetoric 

Beliefs and behaviour 

  • They may appear egotistical. sometimes. as they have a strong pride in their heritage 

How decisions are made 

  • The French are highly individualistic and have a centralized structure of authority which allows for fast decisions 
  • The participants’ relationship is a major factor in the decision-making process 
  • The self-identity of a person is based on his or her accomplishments in the context of society 
  • The main variable in social standing is education  
  • A person’s privacy is very important 

Business Etiquette 

Punctuality, Engagements, and Time Zones 

  • For business and social occasions, always make an appointment 
  • You should always be on time, though the south of France is generally more relaxed about time 
  • The majority of French people have summer vacations lasting four to five weeks, and take it in July and August 
  • In fact, in August, France practically shuts down except for the tourist industry 
  • Try to choose other months to do business    
  • A 2004 law established a full working day without pay which reduced the number of public holidays in France by one day 
  • Called “solidarity journey,” this day can be added to any official holiday chosen by the employees of the company 
  • It immediately forfeits to Pentecost Monday if they cannot determine which day the working day/holiday will be 
  • Your business card should always be presented 
  • When receiving others’ cards, treat them with great care 
  • Make sure your cards are also printed in French on one side 
  • If it’s a prestigious school, include any academic qualifications on the French side 
  • 11:00 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. are the most ideal times to schedule meetings 
  • France is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (G.M.T. +1) 

Negotiating 

  • Eye contact is intense and common for the French, to the point it may intimidate Asians or North Americans 
  • Employees stick to their job descriptions because of the tight “old-boy network” and lack of merit-based promotions 
  • Make it a policy to promote your French nationals for the work they achieve, as your French management might not do so  
  • Make it clear what your company’s service standards are 
  • The French people are known for their formal and reserved behaviour. Having a casual attitude during a business transaction will alienate them.  They would be distracted by casual activity during business transactions 
  • Throughout negotiations, the French may make you look like the petitioner (demandeur) placing you in a weaker role 
  • Hierarchies are strict. Junior executives pass concerns on to a superior 
  • Try developing personal high-level contacts  
  • Asking personal questions to start a conversation should not be done 
  • Do not confuse a high-pitched voice and energized gestures for frustration; they typically just indicate keen interest in the subject matter 

Business and Leisure 

  • Business may be done at any meal, but it is better to do so at lunch 
  • The French are not too passionate about “le power breakfast” 
  • Business lunches normally last one to one-hour-and-a-half. Dinner is late, at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. 
  • Display appreciation for the food at a business meal before starting a business discussion 
  • Business drinks should not be in a café – they’re too loud. Seek a quieter place 
  • You are expected to pay for the meal or drinks if you initiated it  
  • Reservations are mandatory in most restaurants, except in brasseries and hotels. When choosing a restaurant, stick to French rather than ethnic ones 
  • The French are very appreciative of strong conversationalists 
  • Keep your hands above the table when eating.  Food arrives little by little, so pace yourself in order to not get full too fast  
  • When done, place your fork and knife parallel across your plate 
  • Cheese is served at the end of the meal 
  • Don’t drink strong liquor before meals or go for a smoke between courses. The French believe this destroys the taste buds 
  • The French shut the doors behind them; you should do the same thing. Knock and wait before you enter 

Greetings 

  • You should always shake hands when being introduced, meeting someone, or leaving 
  • Women usually offer their hand first. French handshakes do not usually have a firm grip on them 
  • In social situations, with friends, expect to do les bises, touching cheeks, and kissing the air 

Addressing people 

  • Know older French people’s titles, and use it to address them when introduced, and also during conversation.   Titles such as  “Madame,” whether in English or French, should be used when you converse 
  • “Madame” is not meant for young girls 
  • Do not use first names unless they ask you to do so 
  • Use the “vous” form before you are instructed to use “tu”, if you speak French 
  • Also sometimes, the French will say their last name before their first name 

Cultural gestures to be aware of 

  • The "thumbs-up" sign means "okay" where the North American "okay" sign (forming a circle with thumb and forefinger) means "zero" in France  
  • It is indecent to slap an open palm over a closed fist 
  • Do a writing gesture to ask for the bill 
  • Don’t chew gum when in public  
  • When a visitor or a superior enters the room, men will still stand up or make a move to stand 

Gifts 

  • At your first meeting, don’t give a business gift 
  • You should not give gifts that are too luxurious or frugal, also avoid promoting your company logo on the gift. Good taste is everything 
  • With your gift you can insert a business card, along with a small card which says: “with the compliments of Mr./Madame’. .” 
  • Books or music are enjoyable gifts, because they display interest in intellect   
  • The chunkier and more complex the text, the better; in France, simplicity isn’t a virtue. For the host, it’s ideal to bring flowers (not roses or chrysanthemums), fine chocolates, or liqueur. Bring them to the party before, and not after 
  • Send (at least) a message the next day, to express gratitude 

Apparel 

  • In France, clothing is very important, which isn’t surprising since the terms used to portray fashion in English such as “haute couture,” “chic,” etc., are from the French language 
  • “Haute couture” dates back to 1908 
  • Not everybody in France owns a big wardrobe, but what they do have is costly, well made and trendy 
  • Affluent executives seek the best suits and styles available  
  • The French seem to have exceptional posture, making their clothes look even better on them 
  • Men should wear dark suits in the north and in the winter 
  • French suits are cut differently; something North American men should keep in mind 
  • Don’t be the first one to take off your jacket or tie 
  • Let your colleagues take the first step towards a more relaxed appearance 

Business Culture/Etiquette in Canada

Dear Students:
Each country course has a Canadian Business Etiquette section. This allows you to compare the etiquette and business practices of two different countries. Additionally, it will highlight the differences between the countries yet allow you to see the similarities as well.
PLEASE NOTE THE CANADIAN BUSINESS ETIQUETTE SECTION IS PART OF YOUR TEST.

Suggestions for doing business in Canada 

  • Canada is a country which is multicultural 
  • While the majority are French or English/Irish/Scottish, many Amerindian, German, and Ukrainian descent Canadians still exist 
  • In British Columbia, many new Canadians were born in Asia. Every ethnic group possesses its own customs 
  • English-speaking Canadians appear to be very respectful, and seldom interrupt the conversation of another person, except to point out that someone or something just described comes from Canada 
  • Francophone Canadians, by contrast, often interrupt one another. They tend to view the sequential, give-and-take speech of English speakers as being excessively concerned with formalism, accuracy, and precision 

Government 

  • Canada is a democratic federal multiparty government, with provinces having more authority than states in the United States 
  • Canada’s titular head of state is the British monarch, who is portrayed by the governor general. Canada’s head of government is the prime minister. The Parliament of Canada has two houses: a Senate, and a House of Commons 

Languages 

  • The official languages in Canada are English and French, with French predominating only in Québec 
  • The estimated overview is 60% English speakers, and 24% French speakers 
  • Chinese is now the third most common language spoken in Canada, owing to the vast number of ethnic Chinese who have recently immigrated to Canada (many fled Hong Kong before it was taken over by the People’s Republic of China) 
  • Inuit language Inuktitut is the language of the Nunavut territory. Inuktitut does not use the Roman alphabet, but uses its own syllabic writing format which was initially established by Anglican missionaries 
  • Ninety separate languages used in Canada are counted by linguists, five of which are extinct. All languages that have become extinct are Amerindian 

Cultural Guidance 

Intellect – How Canadians perceive and use information 

  • Canadians are typically well educated and open to fair debate 
  • The French Quebec province is less open. In general, Canadians are rather logical, and favour factual facts to subjective knowledge 
  • They operate on problems more from the viewpoint of universal principles than from the particular viewpoints of the individuals concerned 

Strategies for negotiation – What Canadians take to be proof, affirmation, and authentication 

  • In negotiations, facts are recognized as the primary evidence, with little credence given to feelings  
  • Within provinces, especially in Quebec, there is strong ethnocentrism 
  • This contributes to a belief in self-determination which may encompass their negotiating behaviour 

 Beliefs and behaviour 

  • The French province of Quebec has a set of principles very different from the rest of Canada 
  • In all provinces, consumerism is well established 

How decisions are made 

  • Decision-making is particularly highly individualistic, but one should follow company policy 
  • One individual may thus be substituted for another without interrupting negotiations 
  • It’s not difficult for Canadians to say “no.” Respect for privacy prevents discussion of one’s family and personal life during business negotiations 
  • Friendships are close-knit 
  • Sociologists consider Canadians as having a small long-term orientation 
  • This would imply that Canadians are focused on immediate outcomes, rather than how decisions will impact future generations 

Business Etiquette 

Punctuality, Engagements, and Time Zones 

  • It’s critical to be punctual. Be on time for all meetings relating to business 
  • Canada’s Francophone regions may have a much more relaxed attitude towards time, but individual business people differ 
  • You’ll be expected to be punctual even as a foreigner, even if your Canadian counterpart isn’t 
  • In general, fifteen minutes late for social occasions in the evening is appropriate 
  • Morning meetings tend to be favoured 
  • Canada covers six time zones, please verify the time zone beforehand if you are planning on having a business call 
  • Most of Canada is on daylight saving time from March through early November 

Negotiating 

  • Approaches in negotiation appear to be somewhat close to those in the U.S., but the pace can be more moderate 
  • Canadians equate the US with self-promotion and “hype.” Avoid over-promoting the merits of a product; it may create allegations of fraudulent promotion. Canadians are looking to hear the truth 
  • It is critical, when dealing with French Canadians, to have all the material written in both French and English 
  • In Quebec, French-language regulations are very strict for all commercial ventures. The only legal language for doing business is French, and all signs should be written in French. Despite that, English expressions which do not have an equivalent French translation are allowed 
  • English-speaking business people in Canada expect a strong handshake, direct eye contact and an open, welcoming manner 
  • Despite certain parallels with U.S. residents, English-speaking Canadians are closer to British reserved practices 
  • Although many Canadians address others easily by their first names, it’s best to expect your Canadian peer to indicate it 
  • "Canadian identity" is very important to acknowledge  
  •  In general, French Canadians are less cautious than English speakers. Their gestures may be more expressive, they will be closer to each other when talking, and they are more likely to touch when speaking 
  • As Canada is multiethnic, it is important to recognize that the business etiquette of whom you are dealing with may depend on where they originated from 

 

Business and Leisure 

  • Business meals in Canada are common while breakfast meetings are not as prevalent as in the United States 
  • Dinners are generally considered social occasions. If business were to be mentioned, it would happen at the end of the meal. Whilst this is evolving, it’s a good idea to wait until your host brings the business up   
  • It’s fairly uncommon to be invited to a Canadian home for a business dinner, however, it’s become more frequent in western provinces with outdoor barbecues 

Greetings 

  • A smile is the typical greeting, often followed by a nod, wave as well as a verbal greeting 
  • A handshake is applied to greetings or introductions in business settings 
  • The handshake appears to be strong among Canadians of British origin, and a poor handshake may be considered a sign of weakness 
  • Men usually wait to extend their hand, allowing a woman to offer their hand first before shaking   
  • Even French Canadians have a very strong handshake. And more frequently they shake hands: on greetings, introductions, and departures, even if the individual was greeted earlier that day 
  • Often good friends and family members embrace, particularly amongst the French 
  • A kissing on the cheek is also common in French-Canadian culture
  • Remember that, unlike U.S. citizens, the French don’t end an embrace with a pat or two on the back. If you see a distant friend, a wave is suitable 
  • Asking “How are you? ” is not meant to be a very personal question demanding an in-depth response. A suitable response would be “I’m well, thank you. How are you?” 

Addressing people 

  • Most Canadian names are in the order of first name, middle name, last name 
  • Using a title such as “Dr.,”” “Ms.,” “Miss,” “Mrs.,” or “Mr.” with the last name shows respect 
  • Use the title and surname of the person when you meet them for the first time before being advised otherwise 
  • Remember that although using first names on the phone is common, French Canadians could perhaps return to using surnames in person 

Cultural gestures to be aware of 

  • The typical space between you and your partner in a conversation should be two feet 
  • British Canadians feel awkward getting any closer to someone else. French Canadians might be marginally closer 
  • Canadians are not inclined towards frequent or extensive gesturing, particularly those of British descent 
  • English-speaking same-sex friends usually do not link arms or hold hands 
  • Female French Canadians normally touch during conversation and can walk arm-in-arm 
  • You may use the index finger to point, but pointing at an individual is not polite 
  • Wave all fingers in a scooping gesture with the palm facing up to beckon someone
  • There are two common gestures, to indicate approval. One being the “okay” gesture which is achieved by making a thumb and index finger circle. The second one is a “thumbs-up,” achieved by forming a fist and pointing the thumb upwards 
  • The gesture “V-for-victory” is done facing out with the palm. When done with the palm inward it can be interpreted as an insult 
  • The backslap represents a symbol of close bond between British Canadians. It is hardly used by the French 
  • To wave good-bye, push all your hand, facing outwards 
  • Clear eye contact indicates you’re sincere, but should not be too intense 
  • Minorities may look away to demonstrate respect 
  • If they’re seated, Canadians always look very comfortable. They can sit with the ankle of one leg on the knee of the other or place their feet on chairs or desks 
  • Maintain good posture in business situations, and a less relaxed pose 

Gifts 

  • Business gifts are meant to be humble. Flamboyance is generally frowned upon by the people of Canada 
  • It’s customary to bring a gift when you visit a home. Flowers, sweets, or alcohol are typical gifts 
  • Gifts are shared at Christmas time 
  • You may offer gifts that are beneficial to your business associates at the workplace, or liquor or wine 
  • A perfect opportunity to offer a gift is when you arrive or depart. The best gifts come from your country 
  • Business gifts are offered after you have reached an agreement  
  • Unless you are asked to open the gift at a specific time, they are usually opened immediately 
  • To take others out for a meal or other entertainment is a common gift 

Apparel 

  • Conservative business wear is best in cities 
  • Clothing is less formal and less trendy in rural areas, and small towns 
  • Canadians dress casually when they aren’t working 
  • Dress warmly if you are in Canada during the winter, as it tends to get fairly cold! 

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