By: Ng Scherly Hansopaheluwakan, S.E, MIB
France has one of the highest populations in the European Union in 2013 it was over 65 million people. This number includes over 4 million foreign residents and immigrants who live in France.
French is the national language of France and is highly regarded as a symbol of the culture. The people of France generally prefer to speak and be spoken to, in French. Regional dialects found in certain areas include Alsatian (a German dialect), Flemish, Breton, Basque, Provencal, Catalan, and Corsican; however, these are declining in usage. In addition, the large immigrant population brings numerous other languages, adding to the ethnic diversity of France.
About 84% of the French population is Roman Catholic. In addition, 8% are Muslim (mainly North African immigrants), 2% are Protestant, and 1% is Jewish, while 4% are unaffiliated with any religion or church. The church and State have been separate since 1905. France is in the Central European Time (CET) zone. French Summer Time starts from March and ends in October days vary dependent on the year but usually these are the last Sundays of the month.
France can be divided into three broad climatic regions. The oceanic region in the west experiences very little temperature change between summer and winter, and has rain year-round. In the north eastern and interior areas, including Paris, the climate is continental, with cool winters, warm summers, and a distinct spring and autumn.
French executives tend to focus on long-term business relationships. Business people in France are usually straightforward, questioning, and probing. They tend to treat the business discussion as an intellectual exercise. Therefore, logic will dominate discussions, which at times might become intense. Keep in mind that the focus of an argument may change during the discussion. The French won’t normally accept anything that goes away from their cultural norm and will avoid taking high risks. However, note that they are receptive to new information; just make sure you present strong arguments.
The decision making pace in the French business etiquette is rather slow. Decisions are usually not made at the first meeting, because business people prefer to discuss things in detail with somebody at the top. Therefore, patience will be appreciated whereas pressure will be taken negatively. Likewise, aggressive selling techniques will not generate a positive response; focus on discussion and exchange of information. Business hours are from 8:30 / 9:00 am to 6:30 /7:00 pm.
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