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Published by GUS LUBIN for Business Insider
So you’ve got a meeting in France. Knowing how to speak French will be helpful, but it’s also valuable to understand the French communication patterns that will define your meeting.

British linguist Richard D. Lewis charted communication patterns as well as leadership styles and cultural identities in his book, “When Cultures Collide,” now in a 2005 third edition. His organization offers classes in cross-cultural communication for big clients ranging from Unilever to BMW.

In support of cross-cultural studies, he writes: “By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us. A working knowledge of the basic traits of other cultures (as well as our own) will minimize unpleasant surprises (culture shock), give us insights in advance, and enable us to interact successfully with nationalities with whom we previously had difficulty.”

Although cultural generalizations can be overly reductive, Lewis, who speaks ten languages, insists it can be done fairly, writing: “Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception. There is, however, such a thing as a national norm.”

When meeting with French, you should be prepared for a vigorous logical debate, according to Lewis.

When meeting with Americans, you should be prepared for them to get right down to business, get upset when there’s a disagreement, and expect one or both sides to make concessions.
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