Working with French people sometimes disconcerts foreigners. A quick overview of the work habits considered to be the most French.
Intercultural differences sometimes lead to mistakes, misunderstandings between colleagues or with the hierarchy. But the perception of customs in the workplace is not the same according to the culture of origin. For instance, an Indian would describe the French as disciplined, formal, and punctual. A German, on the other hand, would describe them as arrogant, poorly organised, but rather creative.
In many countries, the collective takes precedence. For example, it is the product of group work that is proposed to the hierarchy. In France, an individual solution, even if it is the result of a joint reflection, is rather put forward. Many foreigners therefore consider the French to be individualistic. They also discover the culture of debate, even within the company.
Foreigners are often surprised by strikes, the length of leave and meals, and working hours. Many find the French polite, cheerful, talkative, and relaxed – sometimes too much so – at work. But their changing moods or sometimes their anger, as well as their rather direct way of communicating, confuse some of them.
Here are three testimonies from foreigners from Korea, Algeria, Brazil and Benin, who are surprised by some of our behaviour. They also point out specific features that they appreciate at work, such as secularism and social protection.