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French Attitude 101
In the first segment of this book, the author provides a hundred and one bases of Frenchship. The next few pages present, capped as with an icing, the A to Z of adapting to an exceptional culture!
This book just might save you a lot of relational problems if you are going to live, study or work in France; in any case it will open your eyes to a profound behavioural psyche even if you don’t want to settle in France. For the French, this will be a unique perspective, looking from outside in.
Why do you need to understand the French?
In France, the way you behave is of the utmost importance. People take it seriously. They won’t ignore what you do or what you say. In fact a significant part of communication in France is non-verbal. Should you have the good fortune to find yourself in France, your behaviour, quirks and mannerisms continually speak volumes about you, even if you’re none the wiser. I’ll give you an example. You arrive at the airport in a bit of a hurry, so you barge through the queue and run down the aisle. Bad idea. The people around you have immediately decided what kind of person you are. Let’s just say you haven’t exactly covered yourself in glory.
If you’re seriously considering living, studying or working in France; in a French company even, then you should make the effort to understand the French psyche. I know – I spent nine years in France, and hopefully it won’t take you that long to find your feet. What makes this book unique is that these tips are not written anywhere, at least until now. I discovered them for myself through (often painful) experience over nine years.
This is not the first book that explores the French culture. Instances abound, in print and on the Internet, of people’s opinions about the French. Unsurprisingly it swings towards both ends of the spectrum. Some are unashamedly eulogistic, while others are downright dismissive, hateful even. My aim here is neither. I’m interested in sharing my experience and providing a starting point on how to “survive” in France. I actually hope to achieve a bit more than that, because some of the instances used here are not directly mine; but that of associates and colleagues with similar experiences.
I’m not interested in stoking controversies such as the perpetual struggle between secularism and religion, or even immigration. Rather to highlight certain relational issues within the French society. The information contained in this work was obtained in three ways: through personal experience as I mentioned earlier, indirect experience of friends and family, and by informal research from surveys. All three sources showed a high level of agreement and coherence; so it was clear that this topic merited some attention. This is the purpose of French Attitude 101: to draw attention to those often unmentioned, unexplored and ill-understood aspects of French character and behaviour, as directed to themselves and towards others, and how others perceive it.
French people sometimes have to discover and learn these unwritten rules for themselves. I’m often amused when those who have studied French culture and language are still surprised when they actually experience it for themselves. Studying and learning about the French is not quite the same as living in France. Studies will tell you about the language and culture, albeit often through rose-tinted glasses. But living here, right in the thick of it, will make you take off those glasses and feel the pinch. Read, enjoy and, most importantly, learn! If you are worried on arrival, give us a call, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our workshops will help you through!
Brian C. Kelly, 2013
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