Etiquette Tips for Conducting Business in the French Culture

Not to be gauche, but compared to the U.S., conducting business in France might seem a bit quirky to you. For instance, the French can show concern if profits are considered excessive.

As a former executive for a French-owned company long before my consulting practice, I speak from experience. My French boss was initially alarmed when my west coast division doubled profit margins of my predecessor.

Nevertheless, business with the French can be very profitable if you approach it with dignity.

Geographically, France is large. It’s also diverse with an immigrant population and has regional differences. Nonetheless, Muslim women are banned from wearing a full veil. That’s for reasons of security.

The key to achieving success is to be aware of acceptable business etiquette in France.

You might keep in mind these tips:

1. Business dress

The French are concerned about appearances. Conservative dress works best.

For men, this means well-tailored solid, dark suits. The jacket and tie stay on and in-place in at work and in all meetings.

For women, avoid ostentatious colors and flashy jewelry, and wear quality shoes.

2. Business behavior

Punctuality is often not observed. For the French, a little tardiness is OK. Apropos is a favorite expression of mine: “The longer they keep you waiting, the more they want you.”

Knock and wait before entering an office. Cold calls are not considered cool. Always arrange for a meeting in advance.

Shake hands when greeting and leaving a French person. Unlike the U.S. practice, don’t give a firm handshake. Keep the handshake brief. Although eye contact is important, keep it brief.

Lunch is considered best for conducting business. If you’re a smoker, between courses don’t light up nor should you drink hard liquor. For the French, such habits are naturally considered to adversely affect taste buds.

As with handshaking, make sure to make eye contact during a toast or when clinking glasses with your associate.

3. Business gifts

It isn’t common practice to give business gifts. But gifts are normally expected by the host in social events such as a private dinner party.

In turn, in lieu of a business gift, it’s a good idea to host associates at a special dinner or event. If you really think a gift is appropriate, keep in mind that a high-brow book or music selection is acceptable.

Don’t ever give a gift that has your company logo on it. The French consider it distasteful. Don’t include your business card with a gift.

Never send a gift to a French associate’s home. Instead of a gift, it’s preferred that you send a New Year’s card in which you thank the person for the business and offer best wishes for prosperity in the New Year.

4. Business communication

If you don’t speak or write in French, apologize. Your apology will be appreciated.

Don’t be surprised if your French associate interrupts you. It’s considered rude in America but not in France where it’s considered OK. Why? The French don’t like to feel as though they’re being lectured.

As in business dress, don’t be gauche when you speak or laugh. Loudness is considered gauche.  The French speak at a lower volume and tone than most Americans.

From the Coach’s Corner, for good etiquette, here are additional relevant tips:

6 Top Tips for Etiquette in Business Travel — If you’re into people-watching, the airport is an entertaining place to be. You’ll see all kinds of personalities. That’s especially true for the wide variety of business travelers. For successful trips, business travelers share one common trait. They need to be mindful of business etiquette.

For Profits, 10 German Business Etiquette Tips Apply in the U.S. — Hats were once considered the business norm for me. Formality required that men remove their hats when entering a building or when they were introduced to a lady. Baby boomers can recall it was a cultural, social-changing event – and quite a shock in 1961 – when President John F. Kennedy appeared hatless at his frigid outdoor inauguration. […]

Business Etiquette Dos and Don’ts – Sending Holiday Cards — One of the best investments for your business relationships is to send holiday cards. It’s an excellent way to stay in touch and to show gratitude in your business relationships. But you must do it right.

Make More Friends at the Office with 6 Etiquette Tips — In many companies, good etiquette is nonexistent and office co-workers fail to make friends of one another. Lack of trust and turmoil is seemingly evident everywhere. You don’t have to like everyone, but it’s best to be respectful, and assertive versus aggressive. That makes for good office relationships.

Tips for Dining Etiquette with Your Boss or Anchor Client — Whatever the important business occasion, it’s helpful to hold your meeting away from the tense hustle and bustle of a corporate setting. The right ambience for deal making is often an opulent restaurant with sumptuous food. That’s been my preference.

If Your Boss Invites You to Dinner, Make a Great Impression — Whether you’re invited to the home of your boss, a prospective employer or a business associate, manners are important. Things aren’t always as they seem. Be aware you’ll have to impress everyone who is attending. Here’s a checklist of 13 etiquette tips.

“Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential.”

-Will Cuppy


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

ObamaCare: High Court Upholds Subsidies…What Now?

June 25, 2015 –

So the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in King v. Burwell that it’s OK for ObamaCare to allow the federal government to subsidize health-insurance premiums.

The high court’s justification for its decision defies logic for economic, legal and moral reasons.

The so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA) unambiguously states the subsidies can only be given to people based on their income via an “Exchange established by the State.”

stockimages doctorBut only 13 states, including Washington state, have exchanges. Individual Americans are required to enroll in the federal government’s exchange. If they don’t, they face fines as high as $695 in 2016.

ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber has said the law’s authors wanted the subsidies to force states to participate in the program.

Good economic sense

When the majority of states, 37, used good economic sense to refrain from establishing exchanges, the Obama Administration circumvented the law by issuing an IRS regulation.

“Virtually all of the state-exchanges are experiencing financial difficulties, including Washington state,” blogs Roger Stark, MD, the health care policy analyst for the Washington Policy Center (WPC),

Fearing exploding costs, 23 states declined to take part in the resulting Medicaid expansion. In the participating 27 states, a major injustice is occurring. Able-bodied unemployed men are receiving free care.

The uninsured 33 million people have hit a wall – the plans are too expensive even with subsidies and the coverage is too limited.

But even moms and their children, who are eligible for coverage, are being rejected as new patients by doctors. Physicians simply cannot afford the drastically low-government reimbursement rates. They’re already overwhelmed with the required complex paperwork.

Few enrollees

In addition, only about 17 million people, who were among the 50-million uninsured before the law’s passage, are enrolled in the federal and state exchanges. Many enrolled in Medicaid, which puts a bigger burden on taxpayers.

Why so few enrollees?

For seemingly countless individuals, the four ACA-mandated insurance plans are out of their reach. The uninsured 33 million people have hit a wall – the plans are too expensive even with subsidies and the coverage is too limited.

Therefore, many Americans – the working poor, self employed and middle-income folks – have opted out. For them, it’s more financially feasible to pay the federal fine, negotiate health-care provider fees and hospitals, and seek low or no-cost deals from drug companies.

Many others are struggling to pay for health insurance.

The law’s bronze plan, for example, costs a minimum of $500 and inflicting deductibles that cost as much as $13,200 for a family of four – with extremely limited provider networks. The latter means such people can’t reliably choose their doctors or hospitals.

Furthermore, small-insurance companies have been forced out, which means only a handful of companies are participating and it constitutes a monopoly of insurers. It will only get worse as Aetna is acquiring Humana.

The consolidation also means there’s been a similar constriction of hospital and doctor services.

The individual plans are mired in a quagmire. What used to be routinely covered, no longer is. When an insurer denies coverage, the patients have no recourse as the insurers are unresponsive to the complaints.

There’s more mass confusion and waste that could be mentioned. It would require additional voluminous explanations in this article, but you get the idea.

Premium increases

With the dramatic decrease in insurance options, premiums for individuals are forecast to jump as much as 20 percent in 2016.

“Health insurance premiums will continue to rise, ultimately forcing the government to put some type of price controls on the industry,” predicts Dr. Stark. “Health insurance companies will then essentially become public utilities.”

There are other onerous implications.

“Taxes will continue to rise,” adds the WPC analyst. “The federal debt will increase and future generations will have a huge financial burden. Cuts to Medicare to pay for the ACA will get worse and access to health care for our seniors will decrease.”

Had the Supreme Court ruled the subsidies to be illegal, it’s true about 6-million low-income beneficiaries of this ghastly law would have lost their subsidies.

But for millions more, the monopolies – that drive the massive premium increases and less coverage – would have ended. For the uninsured 30-million+ Americans, a free-market system would likely provide affordable premiums and wider choices.

Ironically, a free market – with lower premiums and better choices – would have fulfilled the original intent of the law. ObamaCare is the poster child for heavy-handed government dysfunction.

“The stated goal of many of the proponents of the ACA is some type of government single-payer system,” concludes Dr. Stark. “Hopefully, the American public will reject this and will instead push for a patient-oriented health care system that puts the patient, not the government, in charge.”


From the Coach’s Corner, you can read more insights of the Washington Policy Center here.

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.”

-Margaret Thatcher


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.