An English-speaking businessman who speaks near-perfect French told me this story.
"One of my top employees was very competent, but everyone had a really hard time with her. She was so harsh and hard that I decided I had to have a word with her.
"I called her in and said, 'You're extremely valuable to the company, but you have a problem. You've got to be nicer to people. Frankly, you're a bit of a garce.' "
"She froze and glared at me. Then she relaxed and said, 'I forgot, you're not a native French speaker. You don't realize the impact of your words. But you can't call me garce! You mustn't ever call me that!"
"I realized I must have made a mistake. 'What should I have said, then?'
"She thought for a moment and then said, 'You can say I have a difficult character.' "
"She's now in politics, by the way," he added. "She's quite successful."