Beware of the French faux pas!
Your first hours on French soil have begun… and the first cultural shocks are already here!
Whether in the personal or professional sphere, you may be surprised, confused, annoyed, amused… and sometimes all in the same day! These reactions are normal, and that’s what makes travel and discovery so exciting, isn’t it?
To facilitate your integration, especially in the working world where sources of misunderstanding can lead to frustration, you need to prepare yourself: books, films, blogs, testimonials… there is no shortage of opportunities to learn about French culture.
For those who are connected and want to get to the point, I recently discovered a very complete application that helps decode cultures! There is of course the French culture, but also the culture of 60 other countries! This application is called Gapsmoov and it will be a great help to facilitate your integration, especially if your work colleagues are French.
In a few moments, I would like to share with you three French specificities in terms of behavior. Of course, French culture cannot be reduced to these three aspects. Like all cultures in the world, it is complex, varied and in flux. Because if the differences in behavior observed between people are linked to the cultural context of the country in which we live, they are also linked to our family circle, our schooling, our profession, our personality.
Keep in mind that it is up to you to build your own experience of interculturality, and to overcome stereotypes and prejudices. Indeed, there are no “good” or “bad” cultural traits and therefore, you should never judge or generalize.
To avoid mistakes in French, here are some practical tips:
- You will notice that the French can be “tactile” during a first meeting where a kiss may be in order. This typically French ritual is a common socialization gesture that has no sexual connotation. Our advice: don’t take the initiative to kiss. There are no rules, everything is left to the tact of each person, so when in doubt, abstain and let your French interlocutor take the lead, and adapt.
- Although the French appear friendly in their business affairs, do not take the initiative to be on first-name terms with them or even to call them by their first name. You could come across as overly familiar or even rude. So avoid the “Hi Thierry, how are you?” at the first meeting.
- Avoid talking about money, it is taboo in France! Don’t say how much you earn or what you own and don’t ask your French interlocutors about it, it might make them uncomfortable.
- Watch out for false friends: False friends are words that are similar in form or meaning in French and another language, but actually have different meanings. Be aware of these words to avoid misunderstandings.
- Finally, use the right vocabulary: Word choice is important in French. Use the appropriate vocabulary for the situation and the level of language you are using.
There is still a lot to discover and it is not in one article that I could detail everything.
This is done over the long term, by practicing and having more and more experiences. During our immersion stays with the teacher , we offer the opportunity to observe all aspects of French culture. The teacher is there to help you practice and decode to acquire new skills.
Also, the rest of the year, from your home, you can use the Gapsmoov culture decoder in order not to forget what you learned during your stay in France, or even to prepare your trip! I met the founder of this application and I asked her to offer our readers the possibility to test her application for free during 10 days. So you can get a free access by going on this page and indicate your name, first name, email address and put in the message : “10 days test“.
I hope you can enjoy it!
More about false friends in French.