|by Flemming Funch|
"An example of the differences between the French and the Danish social norms is the fact that in France you act much more politely with your colleagues than you would in Denmark. French people might not see themselves as being very polite, but as a Dane I see it that way. Let's take an example: When I get to the office in the morning I go from office to office and kiss the girls on the cheeks and shake the hands of the guys. I also have a short chit chat with most of them. Now this might not seem like odd behavior for a French person, but for a Dane it's quite different from what we're used to. First of all in Denmark I would rarely shake the hands of the colleagues I see everyday, actually it can sometimes be a way of showing distance, in the sense that you approach them in a more official way. One thing's for sure, you definitely shouldn't try to kiss the women at the office, at least not if you don't know them very very well. In Denmark we also have a strong tendency to not hide which persons we like and which ones we dislike. It's not weird to ignore people at an office in Denmark. It's actually very weird for a Dane to be very polite with someone you don't necessarily like or respect."It takes a little getting used to. Not the being polite part itself. But I'm not totally into the French rhythm yet. One shakes hands with the men and kisses the cheeks of the women. But what when one first is briefly introduced to them? The same mostly, and shaking hands with women isn't really what one does. [Correction: See the comments] But it can be hard to develop the right reflex. When we first got here, I thought I had figured out what cheek one kisses first, but really there's no rule for that. Anyway, it is a pleasant ritual, actually. Although I miss hugging, which the French interestingly tend to find a little too intimate compared with kissing on the cheek.