[MUSIC] And now, how do the French negotiate? Well, as a Frenchman myself, I am probably not in the best position to try and answer this question. But nobody else in the team wanted to, so let me have a try. Of course, most French people negotiating abroad in English will have a bizarre accent, as we are not famous for our command of foreign languages, including, of course, English. But this is changing, and younger generations are catching up fast. Now, it's probably best to look at what others said about French negotiators. And first of all, I would like to quote a British observer. Sir Harold Nicholson was a British diplomat who took part in the Versailles treaty negotiations, which ended World War I. He then left the Foreign Office and started writing books about diplomatic negotiation. In one of his books, entitled "Diplomacy" and published in 1939, he wrote this. The French diplomatic service ought to be the best in the world. It possesses a long tradition. It is staffed by men of remarkable intelligence, wide experience, and great social charm. The French combine with acuteness of observation, a special gift for lucid persuasiveness. They are honorable and precise. Well, so far so good, but wait. Yet, they lack tolerance. So convinced is the average Frenchman of his own intellectual pre-eminence, so conscious is he of the superiority of his own culture, that he finds it difficult, at times, to conceal his impatience with the barbarians who inhabit other countries. This causes offense, and the best is still to come. I quote again, their superb intellectual integrity tends them to regard as insincere the confused fumbling of less lucid minds, and to feel irritated. It first occurred that French diplomacy, with all its magnificent equipment and its fine principles, is often ineffective. Well, of course, this is old stuff. And since then, the Head of the British Diplomatic Service, Simon Fraser, said in 2012 that the French Diplomatic Service is the world's best. Now, let's hear what an American said about the French negotiators. Charles Cogan has been working in the US intelligence, and was posted in Paris for about ten years. And following his retirement, he published, in 2003, a small book entitled "French Negotiating Behavior". Now, the subtitle tells us more. The subtitle is Dealing with La Grande Nation. In his book, Charles Cogan describes the French attitude during negotiation as follows, devotion to logical disquisition. Now, hey, I had to look for the meaning of this disquisition, a long and elaborate essay or discussion on the particular subject. Now, let me resume, devotion to logical disquisition and rhetoric, an overriding concern to defend the French position rather than to reach an agreement, and an often passionate assertion of France's universal message. Cogan also explains that the French usual way of negotiating is to build a case, a rational reasoning, concluding that you're wrong and we're right. Now this, of course, doesn't work so well, as nobody wants to be proven wrong. French negotiators use a lot of overarching, grand principles to justify their demands, instead of trying to reach pragmatic problem-solving compromises. Interestingly enough, Charles Cogan's book was translated into French in 2005 with a foreword by Hubert Vedrine, a French former and widely respected Foreign Affairs minister. Vedrine acknowledged most of Cogan's analysis. And he added that, I quote, in France, there is a marked taste for confrontation and aggressiveness in verbal exchanges. This tendency has long extended into the negotiating arena, end of quote. Indeed, moving from the international arena into the Franco-French stage, it is pretty true that France is a country that doesn't like negotiation so much. France has had a long history of revolutions and confrontational politics, at the expense of step-by-step compromises reached through patient, low-key negotiations. Throughout centuries, France has worked hard to build national unity around a strong state. And as result, when it comes, for instance, to industrial relations and social dialogue, this was at the expense of social groups as legitimate negotiation actors. Contrary to what most people think abroad, trade unions are very weak in France, with very low membership. The French legal system is structured around the law as the supreme expression of the nation's unity. And again, this is at the expense of ad hoc agreements negotiated at local level. Negotiation has received lots of criticisms in France. It is supposed to be dull, not exciting, and fair or ineffective. Yet, the trend is going in the opposite direction. More and more negotiations are taking place in all spheres of society, be it in business, politics, city council, whatever. Top down approaches are being replaced with more inclusive systems, opening more room for negotiation. Now, all that being said, let me remind you that when it comes to cross-cultural negotiations, we should be cautious about cliches and stereotypes. That is why I would like to conclude this video with a quote from the General de Gaulle, who used to say, when he was President of the French Republic, I quote, how can you rule a country which has 258 different types of cheese? Indeed, French people are very diverse. So there are probably at least 258 types of French negotiators.