In Paris, they just stared when I spoke to them in French. I never did manage to make them understand their own language.
I found the French people just the opposite. Friendly and eager to become friends. What I did notice, were Americans who became angry because the hotel personnel didn’t speak fluent English. Those folks, of course, were not going to have a good time there because I’m guessing they carried the same attitude throughout the city.
I made very good friends there. I was conducting sales and sales management courses. I’ve mentioned the man I traveled with on the first and last ssessions and the owner of the consulting firm that employed me. The other three sessions I conducted on my own.
I got to the hotel about an hour before he did, so I checked in then waited in the lobby for him to arrive. When he got there, his first words to me were, “So, do you hate this place yet?” I said no, and he said, “You will.” Then I watched him berate the clerk because of the language barrier.
What I discovered, was that the clerks could speak proper English, but only did so when people were nice to them. I thought that was funny.
I had an interpreter named Frederick, who was wonderful. We became friends right away. The company’s trainer, Ludovic Hartemann became a very close friend. The man I traveled with, who conducted the first seminars, was so mean that when I started on my second visit, I had to work hard to get them past the other guy and create a good learning environment. It took awhile, but I was successful.
In fact, as a global company, France was dead last in sales growth. By the end of my three visits on my own, France was showing a 25% increase in sales, which put them in the number one position in the company. They did the work, and went from last to first in only three months! Amazing people.
The human resources director wanted me to work for the company, out of the U.K., but I declined because of my children. I just couldn’t do it, although I was flattered by the offer. The owner of our firm was enraged by it and made a big public scene. Typical, unfortunately.
I think if we realize that we are guests in their country, perceptions would be much different than they are.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to study “Dude” for my trip to the beach.