Are the French frank or rude?

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This Thursday, July 26, 2012 photo shows a waiter working at a cafe terrace in Paris. France, a country famed for its arrogant waiters and proud taxi drivers, is finally getting fed up with rudeness. Polling trends show that impoliteness is now topping lists on causes of stress for the French, who lament that people don't say "thank you" anymore. Paris public transport is weighing in, with a summer-long publicity campaign poking fun at gallic incivility. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Are the French impolite?  Recently a French young man who worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Canada was fired for being aggressive, rude and impolite when working.  However, the waiter accused that is a discrimination against French’s straightforward way of expressing, and sued his former employer for this.  The French waiter took this issue to a level of the French personality of treating people.  The BBC wrote a special article to discuss the French daily conversations to understand whether they are really rude or just straight.

Are the French really unfriendly?

In a normal situation, it is a kind of a nature to greet someone you first meet, but French don’t, especially Parisian.  In their understanding, this is not a impolite performance.  26-year-old Marie Castelin who has lived in London for four years coming from Bordeaux, South of France, she thinks it will be offensive if people talk to strangers without smiles, but she explained that French just aren’t fond of smiling.  “We think that we don’t know you so we wouldn’t like to greet. But it does not mean that we don’t like you; instead, we just hope that the passion comes out naturally after we get familiar with each other.”

Make a point directly

In fact, most of French don’t have an obsession with chatting.  They try hard to shorten the conversation and make a point directly, which surprises strangers.  The waiter mentioned above Guillaume Rey said that his coworkers misunderstood his French personality of frankness and honesty.  He indicated the employer of the restaurant he worked for accused himself of using an aggressive tone and attitude to get along with the colleagues, but Rey thought that’s just the French culture of speaking.  Nonetheless, Castelin also thought French cannot always defend themselves with the differences of cultures. “I feel that some French take it as a excuse, think ‘we are special and you should know that’s it’,” she said.

If googling ”Are the French rude,” it turns out dozens of the stories of tourists’ unpleasant experience, especially toward the waiters and waitresses.  However, the local French disagree with this accusation.  “French are not rude. We just don’t act like British. We are more friendly to friends than to strangers,” 21-year-old Amélie Cauchella from the city of North-western France, Nantes said.

Unique Personality

The co-founder of BC Talents, Julien Mainguy, specializes in helping French speakers from Europe getting familiar with the work environment  and culture in Canada.  “The French speakers from Europe are usually pretty frank beyond the imagination. However, the Canadian culture is ‘non-conflict culture’ – especially in the professional field. Thus, the misunderstanding occurs,” he shared his experience with the CBC.  Pierre Massuard from Tour, France has lived in London for seven years and managed a restaurant. “Every time when I hire a French waiter or waitress, a lot of problems arise.  Because they have different way to get things done, they also aren’t that easy going and friendly,” he said.

Paris doesn’t represent France.

Paris is the heart of France as well as where the elites gather.  Many people think from their deep heart that the Parisian are rude and arrogant, plus Paris is the capital so it’s easy that people take Parisian behaviors as a reference for the country’s performance.  However, those from other parts of France don’t quite agree with that; for example, people in Southern France are generally more enthusiastic then northerners. “When you smile at people, they will give you back. Thus, that is ridiculous to say that all the French are rude,” Castelin noted.