The 3rd Most Powerful Language in the World: French

Putting a French accent on business. 

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How can the #3 language in our countdown of the world’s 10 most powerful languages contribute to your global business success? If your partners are located in certain parts of Canada, Africa, Europe, or Southeast Asia, familiarity with French can help you power up your first impression.

French is not only France’s official language; it is also #3 on the Power Language Index. How did a language with 80 million native speakers score so well on the index? The World Economic Forum found that the broad geographic reach of French, plus its top score for use in international diplomacy, increased the overall opportunities to use the language.

French is a Romance Language, so knowing the language helps when learning Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. Many English words and expressions are of French origin; visiting a café is a familiar spot to enjoy olives, pâté, omelettes , soufflés or mousse.

You’ll recognize common business words used by English-speakers that in fact are French, for example; “The concierge delivered a communiqué that I read en route to a réunion of entrepreneurs.”

When meeting with colleagues and customers in France, remembering and using key business protocol tips and phrases can add to your conversational confidence.

  • Use a light, brisk handshake as a form of greeting unless someone else initiates the double kiss—that itself can be a simple touching of cheeks rather than an actual kiss.
  • When introducing yourself in French, saying “Hello, my name is ______.” becomes Bonjour, je m’appelle ______.”
  • Business socializing is very important in France, but social interaction between people at different levels is generally discouraged.
  • When asking someone’s name, the phrase is: Comment vous appelez-vous?
  • A cordial response to the answer you receive is “it is nice to meet you.”, . that in French is the always lovely sounding Enchanté.

Business conversations in France can include frequent questions and interruptions. It’s good to relax and remain flexible to ensure your discussions are lively and informative.

To learn more about how to work effectively in multilingual and strategic global settings, sign in to a free two-week trial of GlobeSmart® from Aperian Global. Use the promo code INTROIQ to give this online resource a try.

Don’t miss our language countdown next week when we introduce the 2nd most powerful language in the world.

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