FRENCH BUSINESS CULTURE: Major Culture Shocks!


Salut YouTube! So today I have a special guest with me my friend Isabel where are you coming from? Austria. Austria! So we’re here today because we’ve got some stories to share about our culture
shocks when it comes to working in France so between us we’ve been working
in France for how many years? Um so three years for me and four years for me
some things have become sort of normal now and others less so we want to talk to you about big culture shocks that we had in the French
workplace and of course we’re talking about the kind of corporate business
world because that’s all that we know the kind of things that happen in
meetings the kind of things that happen when your boss is giving you performance
feedback and these kinds of stories so without further ado let’s jump into it!
As Rosie mentioned meetings is like a big topic and when you come working in
France it’s definitely a big part of the French culture and how to work in
corporations here it’s completely different to what I’ve experienced in in
Austria and in other countries and let’s see more the anglo-saxon way meetings
are very different so it’s a big exchange let’s say of ideas it’s not
like an agenda you stick to where you say okay I’m gonna do this this and this, this is the outcome like super kind of tangible thing but it’s much more about
okay so let’s exchange this idea let’s talk about it like so that French love
of discussion and debate and challenging each other intellectually and when you
first arrive you’re kind of there like what is happening? Like are we ever going to
talk about what we’re meant to be here for? Firstly I find that you have a lot
of meetings secondly they often run late or start late and run late
so there’s also another point the France is a time of flexible culture which
means then they aren’t as uptight about timing as some other cultures I’m not sure how it is in Austria if it’s more the German way? It’s definitely the German way the German way want to be on time it’s
not like that here so don’t feel disrespected if you know you turn up to a meeting on time and no one’s there and or if you’ve called a
meeting and if everyone walks in ten minutes late it’s nothing against you and then
yeah when you’re actually in the meeting itself you’re gonna be trying to sort of
converge the crowd and get them to talk about specific points and try and get
them to stay on track and it’s just not gonna happen
as you already said don’t take it personally so I remember myself so when
I started working here I was I saw some exchanges of French people about an idea
and I was like wow why are they fighting? Why do they hate eachother? Afterwards I understand it’s not at all personal it’s really about the challenging the idea and
having an exchange it can be a bit even emotional and kind of like rough and then afterwards to be like okay let’s go to lunch! Yeah exactly! They’ll really be there like I don’t like that idea I do not agree I don’t understand where you’ve
got your numbers from and then they’ll be like you know walking out the door so
how are the kids? You see two different faces you’ve got the personal side and the
professional side and the professional side that’s business only don’t take it
personally don’t be surprised if the meeting doesn’t seem to have a natural
end. What they say for Americans is that it’s a good meeting if a decision has
been made in the meeting for French it’s a good meeting if ideas have been
discussed so you might find at the end of the meeting it just ends with “et voilà” – like what’s that supposed to mean? Exactly like no action points no to-do
lists no delegation of responsibilities everyone’s just meant to know. Speaking of meetings actually so it actually relates directly to our next
point which is feedback although you wouldn’t imagine it for the French
personally it can be quite direct can be quite like say rough so for example the
feedback you would get like you would never get okay Wow
really good was excellent you know it was something that I’m surprised
innovative you’re gonna get “pas mal” which means actually translated like really
good yeah that’s true I think because the French have sort of grown up in this
French education system which is quite harsh how it works is that you get
graded out of 20 but no one gets 20 out of 20 like it’s literally impossible
and almost no one gets 18 or 19 either like it’s it’s never perfect it can
always be better and that definitely translates into the workplace as well so
you’ll prepare and deliver something what you think is very well done very
solid they’ll always be things that you can improve upon and that goes for your
performance in general. There are obviously always upsides and downsides of different things and I saw that although it’s not the most
rewarding kind of lets say culture in the sense that they will say okay pas
mal and you will be like okay wow is it really that bad yeah at the same
time there’s this culture of excellence that makes France so great also
so you know you have products and things like I mean look at the patisserie here
like everything is like tiny and perfect and like ooh wow. If they weren’t constantly striving to be better and be more excellent I mean we wouldn’t have the
booming French luxury industry the perfumes the patisserie so there’s
definitely good sides and bad so on one hand if you feel a bit deflated like oh
it’s never good enough I can never deliver something that they’re happy
with on the other hand you deliver things that you didn’t even know were
possible like that you push yourself to be the best professional you can be
as well yeah another point that was quite surprising
for us was that in France the separation of the professional life and personal
life is quite strong so you would not necessarily share many
things from your personal life at work I was never invited for example to a
colleagues house that’s like a neutral ground I mean unless like for interns
maybe it works like very young people but every colleague that say is not
like 20 it doesn’t work at all and that’s kind of surprising especially if
you’re new here and you’re like would be nice to go to a French house exactly I’m
kind of used to like meeting a lot of people and meeting friends and and
building friendships at work and here it’s so different I mean there’s
definitely a line between your personal and professional life because you know
to be able to establish a friendship you kind of need to share things like a
boyfriend about you know like things that you’re interested in and you know
you’ve got to keep a conversation very neutral people don’t really have photos
of their family and their children up on their desk which is something that
people have everywhere in New Zealand I mean when I first arrived I was dying to
know if my french manager I don’t know was married had children I don’t know
she was at the age where she could have had children so I was curious to get to
know her but I didn’t dare ask I mean you just don’t you can feel that it
wouldn’t be appropriate to ask and you know finally I found out maybe three
four months into working with her that kind of information it’s not something
that they share upfront which is totally fine but it does mean that you know
you’ve got to be careful about what you talk about definitely and you’ve got to
be careful what you ask people and you also can’t expect to make best friends
forever straight away at work it’s just not going to work like that
exactly and lastly what’s really important what we feel is really
important in France too in the workplace is the relationship let’s say it’s a
very relationship based culture so you will see lunch breaks coffee breaks
smoke breaks if you do smoke our super important so I mean Austria actually how
we do it is we come to work obviously we also buy coffee and food
it’s still you know we come to work we are our time we have half an hour lunch
break and then we continue and here like easily I can have one and a half hour
lunch break so now it’s really about getting to know the other person if you
don’t know them or spending like a really nice amount of time with the
person you know and connecting various issues learning what they do and so on
and really creating this kind of network that’s super important here that was a
big shock for me like your lunch break is work actually because you’re
investing time into a colleague and that’s key here because you can only get
things done through your network through your relationships and in France that’s
the kind of culture where if they don’t know you they may not respond to your
email or if you’re not introduced by your manager by someone that they know
they may not reply because knowing each other and that one-to-one connection is
so important and you just can’t get your job done without it I think sometimes it
can be a little bit depressing because you just want to get in put your head
down do a good job and you think that that will open all the doors but it
doesn’t work like that here you need to do the networking relationship thing
it’s very human based their workplace here
all right cool guys I hope you enjoyed that one though culture shocks about the
French workplace they’re actually a lot more so if you’d like to see a part two
if you’d like us to explore some other ones please let me know down in the
comments I must say that overall I very much enjoy working in France it’s
definitely stretched me in ways that I haven’t even been able to imagine and I
definitely think that the stereotype that French people are lazy is super
unfounded very hard workers and I’ve had I’ve got lots of amazing colleagues
around me so overall a super positive experience anyway we’ll leave the video
here for this time and we’ll see you in the next one, à bientôt!

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *