Frogs vs Rosbeefs when dealing with conflict

French people have a direct way of dealing with conflicts compared to English people. Reality or stereotypes?

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As you know, I am French. Different culture, different beliefs, different way of thinking. I have noticed this since I have been in the UK (more than a year and a half now already…) especially when working in groups and when dealing with conflict.

Conflict yes, this is the key word of my post today.

Why: as a PR student and as part of one of my assignments I need to blog about conflict, so I have decided to use my lovely Frenchy diary to link the topic with my current UK experience, so it is not out of context and it is also interesting.

When talking about conflict I mean dealing with disagreements when you are from a different culture. Obviously, when you are raised in another country and you grown up there, you have been taught how to deal with a difficult situation, but not everyone has been taught the same way. Here in Southampton, I have learned a lot about dealing with English people and about the English culture.

I have always got the impression that French people have a straightforward and direct approach when something goes wrong. From what I have experienced here I believe English people are the opposite and that people would hide more the problem rather than deal with it. I am actually wondering why… ? In my point of view, it is so much easier to talk and face it in order to fix it rather than acting like nothing happened and avoiding the confrontation.

Is it the fear of confronting the problem or the person? Is it simply the easiest way of dealing with the problem?

The British culture is known for its politeness and maybe silence is perceived as a correct way to act. Unfortunately for me, when a conflict comes up, I understand this behaviour in the other way and as a rude attitude.

So what’s wrong with the cultural aspect when dealing with conflict?

I read that the English culture used to be known for its good manners, reserved personality and their polite, correct way of doing things. But also to drink tea all day (and beers) and to eat a big breakfast in the morning with eggs, bacon and beans. And I also found out that French people are perceived by English people as arrogant and rude. But they are also known as cheese, frogs and snail eaters, wearing a beret and holding a baguette under the arm. So this might be why we do not really understand each other when dealing with conflicts.

 

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Hopefully I have been here now long enough to understand that the British culture is different and that if I adapt myself, I won’t have any problem with English conflicts.

So, stereotypes or reality? What are your thoughts?

Ps: This post doesn’t mean I don’t like English people, no worries. 🙂 It is just my personal opinion according to both cultures.

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16 thoughts on “Frogs vs Rosbeefs when dealing with conflict

  1. You’ve raised an interesting issue, both true in and outside the work place. Do you think this is likely to change anytime soon or cultural difference is here to stay?

    • mmmh interesting question… I think it is likely to stay as this is what we are. We are all different. Conflicts are current everywhere (home, work, friends) but it would be really cool to have a universal way to deal with them, whatever your culture. What do you think? Something maybe linked with psychology… Do you know about NLP? (Neuro Linguistic Programming)

  2. NLP courses are really interesting, I think they can be really useful, especially if you’re in management. You never know, with how fast the world is changing, a universal way of thinking may come one day.

    • Thank you for your comment Jessica. I think as well that NLP courses are really interesting and useful. It could help to manage conflicts in the workplace and as you said a universal way of thinking may come one day… Did you ever experience a conflict with a someone from a different culture?

  3. I have experienced this cultural shock today ! As Im french studying in UK i have to deal with english people everyday, although i never had any problem until now. I was shocked today when one my english team mate sent us a mail out of nowhere saying she has felt really bad ( crying) for few days because of our group and decided to leave us for another group. Instead of communicating with us she decided to hide her malaise and suddenly took this extreme decision. In France this situation is unlikely to happen, we love arguing too much 🙂 !

  4. I’ve had a personal experience of the british culture when I was doing my studies in London. What stated here is true french and british have have a very different way of dealing with issue. Without being hypocrite britsh are extremely polite and prefer to peace conflicts.
    It does not mean they do not express their opinion and thanks to their behavior they avoid many misunderstandings. Why not try to take good sides of both culture? Mixity is always better and come on who does not like solving conflicts while drinking a beer!

    • Thank you Melanie for your comment. What an interesting suggestion 🙂 What do you mean by taking good sides of both culture?
      Would you like to tell the personal experience you had in London?

      Have a good day 🙂

  5. I voted for Culture does affect the way you deal with conflicts because I feel that ultimately, culture , up to a certain point defines your whole way of thinking. Just like you say in your post in fact. ! Living in France for the past few years and already acquainted with the English culture and the United Kingdom as well, I feel that it depends on both the culture and from person to person. But yes as a general case French people are in most cases pretty vocal about their feelings and their problems. Especially their problems 😀 In the beginning it was completely new for me to hear ” Je le sens pas” , and “Je suis pas d’accord” and “Je pense que ” so many times. That being said I feel it is better in the long run as Frenchies in general talk quite a bit and this continous banter helps to always be on the same page and up to date with what’s happening and if everyone is ok with the state of things.

    On the other hand the British tend to be quite a bit more reserved, and have a “We’ll cross the bridge when it comes ” mentality. And only admit or acknowledge that there is a problem once it manifests itself clearly. In doing so they avoid wasting time in chatter but at the same time can have more room for misunderstandings.

    Again, these are my personal views and I honestly believe that it totally depends on the person and the relation one has with the other party in a conflict. !! So Culture gives a base for a general reaction and the rest depends on each situation. It is possible to find a Reserved Frenchy and an exuberant Britisher.

    • Thank you Adam for your comment. Your view is very interesting. As you said, it depends on the person and on the situation but I do think British people are more reserved in general, which is not a bad thing, but just a different personality.
      As you lived in different countries, would you have any example which can support your thinking?

      Have a good day !

  6. Love this post! Living as a Canadian expat here in France, but raised in a more direct Hungarian culture, I would say I have found a land that shares my views when it comes to problem solving. Canada is very much like England when it comes to negative situations and they avoid conflict at all costs. It’s refreshing to find people willing to resolve issues when they arise instead of stretching things out for far too long creating a bigger problem then they had to start with. UGH!

    • Hi Eva, thank you for your comment. Now that you are living in France, how do you find the conflict resolution? Did you experience any conflicts?

      Thank you and have a good day.

  7. Great article Marion! I think culture is a source of conflict in the workplace. We are more and more doing business internationally, so we are more inclined to have conflict as we all come from different countries with specific cultures, beliefs, values, etc. We can’t denied those facts but I think people intend to be more and more aware about them so they manage and adapt their business practice. But to a general extend, conflict can be explained by our cultural differences, yes!

    • Thank you for your comment Claire. Talking about business practice, I think this can be explained through the different culture, yes, but also through the religion and the different beliefs, every country has its own way to do business. Look at China, where respect and time is very important when taking a decision.
      Did you ever face a conflicts in the workplace? How did you manage to deal with it?

      Have a good day 🙂

  8. Hey! Great article!

    Well, if you ask me, I’d say that it’s a matter of personality rather than culture. I am sure you can come across British people that speak their mind and would get into an argument at any point if they think they’re right… and at the same time I am sure there are French ppl, for example, that would rather keep their frustrations and dissatisfactions for themselves… as I said, I think that handling conflict is a complex issue influenced by a mixture of factors: personality, education, maturity, culture, etc. So, I would take this issue further than stereotyping.. We can’t generalise and define nationalities just by a couple of words.. we’re all far more complex than that ..

    + the video is really nice and entertaining!

    • Thank you for your comment ClushPR ! Your view is interesting and very true, it depends a lot on the personality of the person. Everybody knows stereotypes are not always true and represent the bigger picture of a culture (E.g.: French people are eating frogs).

      A big psychological part of each culture should be studied in order to analyze behaviour and why people react this way and not that way… don’t you think?

      Thank you for the video I am glad you liked it 🙂 Have a good day !

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