Are the French rude?
We hear often that the French are rude, and I always tell my students in class that it is just a big misunderstanding between two cultures. Every society has several communication codes. These codes define the society and each individual subconsciously acts according to these codes.
Have you ever heard of the Bonjour effect? What if I tell you that it is natural (I actually never asked myself about it before becoming a French teacher) to say “Bonjour” to a salesperson and wait for this person to reply “Bonjour” before asking for help or information! I discovered that in the US it is customary to start with “Excuse me” followed by “where is your women’s department?” without necessarily receiving a “Hello” before.
In France, it is another story. If you don’t say “Bonjour”, or say “Bonjour” but don’t wait for the reply, I am almost certain that you won’t even get a warm response. They are not being rude, they are just a little bit offended. Not because they are sensitive but because you didn’t respect a common courtesy.
It is all about coconuts and peaches!
According to Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist, cultures can be divided into these two types of food. Americans are like peaches! They are soft on the outside and easy to make contact with. However the warm exchanges don’t necessarily lead to an intimate relationship. You can eat the flesh but will hit the peach pit! On the other hand, the French are more like coconuts. The French may look rude and cold but once you crack the shell, you’ll find open and genuine people.
Check out the link below to learn more about these differences in communication.