So, thanks to Bird Office, you managed to find the perfect meeting room for your American colleagues ‘visit. Youv’e put together a productive program that includes both business and pleasure. Youv’e ordered the coffee and croissants to show them that yes, the French can be polite. Youv’e even revised how to make small talk before the meeting.
Yes, your’e going to have to speak English the entire time, but theres’ good news too. You can impress your American colleagues without even trying. Thats’ right, a lot of things that are considered pretty basic knowledge in France really impress us Americans. These things may seem really, really obvious, but thats’ for you French. For us Americans, these little bits of savoir-faire are simply classy.
Like what, for example?
You know where many different wines come from
Wine has become quite popular in the United States, and Americans regard French wine as some of the best. That doesnt’ mean we know a lot about it though. Those fancy labels written in French are intimidating! If you know the difference between a Burgundy and a Bordeaux, youl’l impress most Americans. Mention geography, a adjectives to describe the wine, and a good year for wine, and youl’l be elevated to Wine Master in the eyes of your American visitors.
Need basic vocabulary to talk about wine like a pro? Watch the video “Talking About Wine In English”
You speak more than one language
You may think that your English is not fantastic and that your school-level Italian is non-existant. Your American colleague thinks you must have a superior form of intelligence to speak 2 or more languages, even at a very basic level. Americans and foreign languages dont’ mix well (“Everyone speaks English, right?”) Wer’e amazed how people can use different languages. Be prepared to get a compliment on how your English is better than their French. They might understand if you reply “Merci!”, but dont’ count on it.
You know how to make quiche
For Americans, quiche is THE trendy-chic French classic. For many Americans, any French recipe seems complicated to make, and this includes quiche. Yes, it takes only 5 ingredients and basically no cooking skills, but Americans dont’ know that. Its’ simple, its’ classically French, and thus it will impress Americans. If you rent a meeting room allows you to bring food, make a quiche and bring it to a meeting. Then wait for the exclamations of “This is soooo GOOD!”
You visited foreign countries before you were a teenager
Americans generally dont’ have a reputation as world travelers. After all, you cant’ travel very far when your country is huge and you have 10 days of vacation per year. For Americans, a trip to Europe is reserved for university exchange programs or a really special vacation. Mention how your family went to Spain or Italy (or more exotic: Morocco and Tunisia) for summer vacation every year, and youl’l seem even more cosmopolitan and Euro-chic.
Your house is more than 50 years old
Its’ no surprise, France is older than the United States. As one French friend told me, “When Louis XIV built the magnificent Versailles, you Americans were still living in swamps.” You dont’ have to go that far, but your 18th century apartment is far more impressive to an American than it is to you. Live in a modern home? Impress them with your knowledge of any monument in your city that is more than 500 years old. Or rent a conference room in an old building. Be prepared to hear an ecstatic “Its’ SOOOOO old!!!”
You can identify more than 3 cheeses easily
French cheese is a little like French wine. Good, but complex, totally foreign, and just intimidating for Americans. How do you tell your Beaufort from Reblochon from your Camembert? If you go to a restaurant with your American visitors, order cheese and enjoy explaining each cheese to them. Americans will seriously admire your cheese skills. Maybe you cant’ put it on your CV, but you can score points with your colleagues from the other side of the Atlantic!
The next time you have a meeting with Americans, try introducing these topics into the conversation. Youl’l see that you dont’ need perfect English to make a good impression. You just need to share some of the secrets of that oh-so-chic French savoir-faire.
An American in France since 2004, Christina coaches clients to better communicate in English and find ways to improve their English level. She regularly speaks at conferences all over Europe. With her YouTube channel Speak Better, Feel Great TV, she is on a mission to boost the English level of French people everywhere. If youv’e got a meeting with Americans soon, youl’l definitely want to sign up for her Speak Better, Feel Great Newsletter.