Why does broaching a subject like money in French end all discussions? How do the French discuss – or not– terrorism, politics, race, gender and sex?
In professional business and personal interactions, communication between the French and foreigners is rarely effortless.
What many fail to realize is that language is not the real obstacle, and that speaking French grammatically is not the same as “talking French” culturally.
(St. Martin’s Press; April 19, 2016)
Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeu unravel the mysteries of French conversation.
Having spent a decade traveling back and forth to Paris as well as living there, they take readers beyond what the French are actually saying to explain the real meanings behind their words and gestures.
Seven Things you need to know when you are talking to the French from THE BONJOUR EFFECT
1. The French don’t communicate. They converse. For the French, the point of talking is not to convey information, but to exchange points of view. If information is what you’re looking for, you may have to be patient, and keep talking until you get it.
2. The French correct others all the time. It’s normal public behavior. You should never take offense when the French correct you because it’s their way of acknowledging you. It means they think you are worth correcting.
3. The French say no even when they mean yes. It’s the classic starting position of almost all French conversations. Don’t assume they mean it and don’t let it stop you. Again, just keep talking. The ‘no’ will almost always turn into ‘yes.’
4. The French hate saying, “I don’t know.” They have been raised in a culture where ignorance is inexcusable and they will say anything rather than admit it. Staff or shopkeepers who don’t know where to find something will go as far as claiming “it doesn’t exist.” You should never take it at face value.
5. The French think being negative is good. It makes you look cool and sound smart. That’s why smiling doesn’t get you good service in France. The French think people smile for no reason because they are stupid.
6. If a French person talks to you, it’s a sign he or she wants to establish some kind of relationship. There’s no such thing as “small talk” in France. Talking means something to the French. Don’t be shy unless you really want to keep people away from you. Conversely, if a French person doesn’t talk to you, it means they really don’t want to have anything to do with you. You should take the hint and not waste your breath.
7. The point of talking in France is to be interesting. That’s why the French like confrontation. To them, consensus is boring. The way the French look at it, everyone in a conversation win if everyone plays their best. It’s like a tennis game – you’re not playing fairly if all you do is return the easy balls.
JEAN-BENOIT NADEAU and JULIE BARLOW are the award-winning authors of The Story of French, The Story of Spanish, and the bestselling Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong.
They live in Canada.
For more information visit:www.nadeaubarlow.com.