My dinners with Pierre (et

My dinners with Pierre (et ses amis)

Last week in France, home of Bergson and Proust, I noted some differences between French and US notions of time.

  • The French have not only minutes, but also "small minutes." This appears to be a euphemism for "it's really going to be longer than that." Petit pops up in other contexts, e.g. "Do you want a whisky?" "Maybe a small one." Thus, a petit minute is to a minute as "just a sec" is to a second. Different.

  • For the most part, American meetings cut to the heart of the matter and Continental meetings start with social and philosophical foreplay. I suspect that the Americans assume the existance of "one best way" and see no need to open that bucket of worms when discussing business matters. The French are more philosophical and enjoy confirming the context before getting to the point. Also, the circular warm-up in France paves the way socially for deeper interaction -- if and when the point of the meeting is reached.

  • In one day-long session to formulate strategy, for the first couple of hours, I felt like I was in slo-mo. My Dinner with Andre. And yet after lunch, we reached more agreements in a shorter time than I've ever experienced in American sessions. The lengthy warm-up built the foundation for rapid agreement. Overall, the Continental approach was more time-efficient. And in addition, we had time left over to discuss nuances over a pleasant dinner at a local brasserie.

  • On the road, American drivers assume other drivers will obey the rules of the road. American highways are less ambiguous in defining what's proper and what's not. Driving in California, I can almost flip into auto-pilot, monitoring details with my peripheral vision and not paying much attention to the second-to-second interplay of the automobiles and trucks around me. In France, many streets were laid out for carriages and farm animals. Streets meet at oblique angles. Cars parked along residential streets leave but a single lane for traffic. When cars approach a chokepoint from opposite directions, it's not at all clear who has the right of way. Driving on auto-pilot in France would be suicidal. It's a much faster game, where one driver has to react to the moves of the others. I suspect French drivers have much quicker reflexes than their American counterparts because they have so much practice.

Posted by Jay Cross at July 10, 2002 08:29 AM | TrackBack

30 Poppy Lane
Berkeley, California 94708

1.510.528.3105 (office & cell)

Subscribe to this Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe. We vow never to share your information with anyone. No Spam.

Subscribe Unsubscribe

Reference Pages

Building Community
CSS, Semantic Mark-Up, and codes
First Principles
How People Learn
Knowledge Management
Learning Links
Learning Standards
Making It Work (Implementing)
Metrics & ROI
Social Software
String theory
The eLearning Museum
Visual Learning


Our Infrequent Newsletter
Sign up for our sporadic newsletter.

Entries by category...

Customer care
Emergent Learning
Just Jay
Recycled from Blogger
The Industry
Workflow-based eLearning


Internet Time Group

© 2004 Internet Time Group

Click for Berkeley, California Forecast
Berkeley, California

Recent entries

New Blog
Blogger Experience, Housekeeping, Something New
Loosely Coupled
Above all
Demographics is destiny
Are you setting the bar high enough?
Virtual Apps
Aerobic Learning
Work as Video Game
Oracle and Macromedia, Sitting in a Tree
The Blogosphere
ASTD Silicon Valley
Performance Support
Kingsbridge Conference Center
First Post by Email
Inactive Blog
RSS Feed for New Site
Comment Spam
Testing ... testing ... 1...2..3
IT Doesn't Matter - Learning Does.
All blogging is political
Mutlimedia Learning
Damn, damn, double damn
Nonverbal impact?
The New Religion
Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!
Business Process Management (2)
Really Big
Business Process Management Conference
Don't Lose a Common Sense: LISTEN
It's only natural
Go with the flow
Time Out for the Fair
Informal get-together in SF this Wednesday
Repetition, reverb, and echoes
Who Knows?
Cognitive Mapping
Push vs pull
The Big Picture on ROI
Art Break
TDF Finale
New Community of Practice Forming
More TDF04
Training Directors Forum 2004
A Rare One-Liner
PlaNetwork LIVE 2
PlaNetwork LIVE
ASTD 2004 Leftovers
Worker Effectiveness Improvement, not KM
Upcoming Events
eLearning Effectiveness?
Jay's Talk at ASTD
Mintzberg & Cooperider
Lest ye forget
ASTD International Conference & Exposition 2004
Knowledge Tips
What is Workflow Learning?
ASTD msg 1 of n
Look out, it's Outlook
Collaboration at ASTD Next Week
Tell me a story
User indifference
The shortest presentation on metrics you will ever hear
Back to Blogger
Windows fixes
The Alchemy of Growth
Grab bag
Very loosely coupled
E-Learning from Practice to Profit
Robin Good kicks off Competitive Edge
China Bloggers
Sonoma Dreaming
Upcoming Events
Emergent Learning Forum: Simulations
The Best Things in Life Are Free
Metrics and Web Services
OpEd: ROI vs. Metrics
e-Merging e-Learning
Loosely Coupled
Search me