8 things that drive French people nuts about American offices - and vice versa



Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Everything from your coffee break to your meeting with your boss is different.


If you're traveling abroad for business, you can take an eight-hour flight from New York to Paris and feel like you've just landed on a different planet.

Why are people lingering over dessert in the middle of the workday? And why was your new French colleague so taken aback when you asked about his kids?

The clash between American and French business cultures is something Emma Seppala and Erin Meyer have thought about a lot.

Seppala moved to the US from France when she was admitted to Yale University for college; today she teaches at Yale and Stanford University. She's also the author of the book "The Happiness Track." Meyer moved to France from the US 17 years ago; today she's a professor at INSEAD and the author of "The Culture Map."


We asked Seppala and Meyer to tell us about the biggest differences between work in France and the US, that they've studied and experienced firsthand. Below, we've collected some of their insights.

As you're reading, remember that there's no universal right or wrong way to go about work - it depends on where you live and what the people around you expect. Remember, too, that not every French or American person will fit the descriptions below. These are simply general observations that can help you prepare to do business in another country.