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Au Contraire: Figuring out the French Paperback – December 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-1877864827 ISBN-10: 187786482X Edition: 10th Printing

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing; 10th Printing edition (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 187786482X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877864827
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gilles Asselin, founder and president of New Jersey-based SoCoCo Intercultural, is a program designer, trainer and consultant who helps international executives and managers succeed when working across cultures. Ruth Mastron is vice president of SoCoCo Intercultural and was formerly a liason for overseas operations for various international corporations.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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If there is any question you might have about the French, then this book will probably answer it.
Aubri Webb
Asselin and Mastron avoid loading the reader down with intercultural jargon and use simple contemporary concepts, like “default mode,” to explain cultural dynamics.
George F. Simons
Anyone who wants to learn about the interesting cultural and business diferences between the French and the Americans should read it.
Dale Alberstone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

342 of 393 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
What a self-serving pack of lies this is. I'm always incensed by so much misinformation presented as unbiased fact. The authors claim to provide "an understanding of hidden and often unconscious cultural patterns." Within that lofty sounding agenda, the old stereotypes I've read countless times before get trotted out one more time in the guise of providing a useful intro to the French: rude, arrogant, unfriendly, smell bad, move slowly and are lazy, is either implicit or explicit throughout this book. If you said such things about blacks or women you'd be called racist or chauvinist. You certainly wouldn't get published. Speaking about the French, however, it seems anything goes -- as long as you have dubious statistics to back it up: "Researchers found that the French are the most resistant to deodorant -- only half of those surveyed use it". An edifying fact you can find by simply looking up "cleanliness -- personal" in the index.)
Even for these tunnel-vision authors, stereotypes are hard to maintain. While at one point in the book they critique the French for being too logical and reasonable -- Descartes don't you know (YAWN!) -- in another they caution American managers about French emotionality in business. Well, which is it? Rational or emotional? And everywhere there is either a thinly veiled pat on the back for an American way of being or, at one shocking point, downright cruelty toward the French.
Try this handy tip to further your business relations: They counsel Americans to begin by speaking French with a French business person not out of deference for the fact that you are in their country, but to protect yourself from those vindictive French.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By MJB on July 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although this book was written before the current political crisis that strained relations between France and the United States, it provides excellent general advice for everyone traveling between the two countries. It gives a fair assessment of both cultures and urges the visiter to adopt an open mind and leave cultural baggage and prejudice at home. I spent almost two years planning our recent 3 week trip throughout France and studying the language (which as the authors say is a must). It is arrogant to expect that people in any other country will automatically speak your language. Why should they? Everywhere we went people were reserved, as we expected, but courteous and helpful and sometimes quite friendly. I agree with the authors that the key to good relations and living, working or vacationing in another country, France in this case, is to learn "their" history, culture and language and embrace the differences. I recommend this book highly.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Beatrice Shushan on March 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful text for everyone who does business with French companies or who has an intercultural relationship (as I have.) The authors dissect and explain those little cultural differences which often cause great frustration and prevent full cooperation, then they suggest ways in which we can adapt presentations, work situations and family plans in order to motivate culturally different persons. I was amazed by the depth of the analases and the efficacy of the solutions. Very difficult situations have been rendered simple and straightforward by application of a few basic ideas. Harmony restored.
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50 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Jean-Claude Balland on October 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
French and American cultures are so close on the surface and so different underneath that if you plan to live in France for some time or if you live there already, you will never cease to bump into obstacles that you couldn't anticipate because they are cultural in nature. To paraphrase and old French/American saying "the closer it is, the more opposite it is". If you go work there as a manager or a professional this will definitely limit your success unless you are open to change your behavior. But which ones? Companies spend millions of dollars transferring employees and making mergers and acquisition but they have historically underestimated the importance of cultural cross training and support. As a French native who was transferred to the US headquarters, I wish I had received this kind of support instead of the "sink or swim" approach. I since read a lot of books on French and American culture to help me adapt and also make sense of my experience to share it with others. In one word, I wish I had "Au Contraire."
"Au Contraire" should be required reading for anybody planning to live in France for some time or interacting with French people on a regular basis, or any French expatriate who wants to make sense of what it is to be French. Companies should give it to the employee they transfer and their family. Actually, they should give it to all employees who have to deal with French counterparts. French-born people planning to live in the US or working with US counterparts will also appreciate it immensely but I wish the authors had a version made for them.
This is a gem. This is THE reference. "Don't leave home without it!" Buy it. Read it, and enjoy the culture shock. You will get out of it transformed and stronger.
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