What Every American Should Know About French Business Etiquette and Customs

French business etiquette runs parallel with the country’s culture. The people of France are proud of their country’s culture and history. Therefore, cultural identity is heavily integrated into their business customs. As an American conducting business in France, keep in mind that your French counterparts are inquisitive and straightforward.

Customary Greetings
As you do in the United States, greet your French counterpart with a handshake. However, unlike the multiple-shake, firm-grip style to which you are accustomed, use a quick, light technique with a loose grip. A firm handshake will make your French business associate feel overpowered. Cheek kissing is another common greeting among work colleagues, but this greeting should only be used if your French associate initiates it.

During introductions, formality is the order of the day. Address superiors and new acquaintances with “Monsieur” for male colleagues and “Madame” for female colleagues. Polite titles of courtesy help make an excellent first impression. When invited to do so by your colleague, you may address them by their first name.

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