The Russians        The cultural DOs and DON’Ts        Most Russians are just like other people we know except for those f...
• Some of them think that all foreigners are rich; so if they spot a foreigner, they may try to take advantageand make som...
When taking flowers as a gift you must only take an odd number. Even numbers of flowers are only given atfunerals and in n...
Doing Business with Russians• Russians are weird in business. As they say themselves, some jumped too deep into the capita...
• Bring a gift that symbolises your company and shows the importance of the impending business deal. Itcan be an item char...
• Because they believe that asking questions means lack of knowledge or professionalism, they veryseldom ask questions dur...
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About russians


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Some impressions on the Russians and how different they might be.

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About russians

  1. 1. The Russians The cultural DOs and DON’Ts Most Russians are just like other people we know except for those few differences listed below. It doesnt mean that everybody is like this, but you have quite a good chance of noticing at least some of these things in an average Russians behaviour. If you are lucky enough to meet a person whose character incorporates all of the items from the list below, you can be sure that this person is the pure Russian character and should be treated with the highest respect. If you decide to become a Russian, you can use the list as a set of handy guidelines.Living with Russians• One thing in common to all Russians is a Dusha, or the Russian ‘soul’. It is a central phenomenon,difficult to define at first but explaining almost all their everyday behaviour. One can notice that mutual likingand sharing emotions forms a strong basis for understanding and co-operation, also in business.• The Russians are a free nation. Consequently, they despise all the rules. It’s an honour for a Russiandriver to move on the red light, to bother other drivers and scorn pedestrians. When you are in Moscow andare just passing a crossing on the green light, you have to remember that it is you whom they hunt.• It’s cool to do nothing and to just lie on the sofa thinking how great you are. Russia is such an amazingcountry and has given the world so much, that a Russian feels he can just rest a bit.• A Russian name consists of first name, patronymic (father’s) name and family name. When meetingTatiana Ivanovna Titova, you should address her as Tatiana Ivanovna (meaning Tatiana, a daughter ofIvan). Using a full name would be too formal, and first name only would be showing lack of respect.• They value generosity. They will give you the last piece of bread they have, if they believe you really needit. And they expect the same in return.• They are indifferent by nature; they don’t care too much about dirt on the streets, saving money, the warin Chechnya, breaking the rules, risk taking without particular reason, drinking too much...• ... and most of them are very proud. Dont talk to them about our vices, they wont listen anyway. And dontdare criticise the way their country is -- Russia is the best place and they are ready to prove it right away tothe whole world.• Some of them are quite emotional, but somehow it’s all kept inside most of the time. But in the time ofcrisis, a Russian can be like a volcano.• They are not politically correct, they take pleasure in talking about their opinions and they will not look forfancy words to conceal their feelings.• They dont feel easy talking to strangers on the street, but if you start conversation saying that youre fromanother country or ask for some help, theres a good chance they will be very open, because they arecurious about foreigners. p. 1
  2. 2. • Some of them think that all foreigners are rich; so if they spot a foreigner, they may try to take advantageand make some money, because they still have fixed that communist idea that everybody should be equal.• Beware of the babushkas (old women). They are active, pushy and very proud of themselves, so if you dosomething not the way they think you should’ve done, then you had better disappear.• When you are invited to the party bring something with you - beer is usually accepted, but somethingstronger would be gladly welcomed.• If youre invited for a meal, expect that your hosts will feed you until you show that you cannot swallowanother bite and are not capable of moving. If you think thats dangerous for your health, or if youre on adiet, you should imitate satiety, otherwise you will end up feeling bad.• If you ask a woman out be prepared to pay for her everywhere. If you invited a man, he’ll pay for himself,and theres a good chance hell pay for you as well without telling you about it.• Men should be strong and assertive, and women should be smart and beautiful. Thats just one of manystereotypes they share.• Russians are not racists. They grew up in the world, where everybody should be equal and where thefriendship of nations was an important part of the agenda. However, they feel that some cleaning andconsequent maintenance of Africa should be done by the Blacks, and they believe they all should go thereand start the job right now. But at the same time they invite all the Africans to come visiting Russia, to bringtheir money and spend it in Russia.• The older people can be sometimes too patriotic and request the old soviet citizens to stay calm and don’tbehave as if they were independent. You should neither discuss nor show foreigners’ superiority in anydiscipline because it will surely offend the Russian ‘patriotic’ feelings.• Most Russians feel a bit strange about gays and lesbians, but prefer not to talk or express their feelingsabout it. There is however, quite a large gay & lesbian community in Moscow and St. Petersburg andspecialised websites have thousands and thousands of profiles featuring gorgeous gay men and women. Itseems to be a specific underground subculture.• They love vodka, but they are not alcoholics. Despite what some people think, Russians are notdrunkards. They just have a particular set of gins and a special resistance to alcohol, thats why they candrink so much. You should know that if you drink with them, youll have to drink as much as they do, or theywill be offended.• Russians are hooligans. Its not because theyre bad, they are just different. Thats why you hear Russiantourists singing their folk songs at 3 am in their London hotel, and thats why they start a revolution every 80years. That might be also a result of having the Russian dusha.• They are superstitious. And if you want to shake hands with a Russian, you should never ever do it over athreshold of the doorstep. You have to come in first, otherwise you will quarrel. Another thing, if you go backto your house just after you left - look at the mirror. But you shouldn’t leave again unless you sit down first fora minute or two. If you leave something behind at your host’s, it means you are happy and want to comeback. p. 2
  3. 3. When taking flowers as a gift you must only take an odd number. Even numbers of flowers are only given atfunerals and in normal circumstances can be understood as a sign of bad luck.• They don’t speak English. Although the Russians learn English at school and many people canunderstand the basics, they are shy to speak to a stranger. They say one out of five Moscovites can speakEnglish well enough to communicate; if they only were not afraid to speak.• They like all things fancy. But their understanding of fancy is rather original. You will often see men insuits or tucked-in shirts, while women prefer noticeable and sexy outfits. The colours for men are usuallydark or grey, while women like light and bright colours. One thing in common though is wearing abundanceof gold to communicate owners wealth and well-being.• A club is not a place to party. They make it the place for the chosen ones. If you want to visit a club, theyhave this thing called "dress code" where you might not be allowed because you wear Nike sneakers, oldkhakis or a fleece coat. However, the rules are more lax for foreigners, so if unsure about your appearancejust speak English load enough while passing the clubs entrance, and youre guaranteed to get in.• They express their feelings, but are not extroverts. They swear and shout in public, and can kiss inpublic as well. Notice how many kissing couples you will see on the long escalators in Moscow metro.However, Russians do not gesticulate much when they are talking, they do not look straight into your eyesand quite often will introduce longer moments of silence when speaking or answering your question. Suchbehaviour does not carry any second meaning for them.• Smoking is a national sport, but many people understand its not good for health and will always agree tostub out their cigarette if it bothers you. Today many people have a positive attitude towards healthy lifestyleand have a daily morning exercise routine or run in the park before their first cigarette.• They believe that if you are a vegetarian, chances are you have problems with digestion. For a healthyRussian, ‘No meat’ means ‘No meal’.• Rurik was a Viking chieftain who arrived in 862 to the present-day North Russia, built the fortress ofLadoga and started the process of uniting the local Slavic tribes. In spite of the fact that he was a foreigner,he succeeded and founded the Rurik dynasty which ruled Rus and then Russia until the 17th century. p. 3
  4. 4. Doing Business with Russians• Russians are weird in business. As they say themselves, some jumped too deep into the capitalist world,while others are still staying too far behind.• Not long ago they tried to take advantage of each and every opportunity and you were likely to beswindled at any corner. Be cautious and avoid unregistered companies, street salesmen and those who onlyprovide a cell phone for contact.• A good, successful company will usually have an office or two in the city centre, lots of marble at theentrance, leather furniture and golden ornaments everywhere. More often they will also prove their positionwith the landline and fax number and e-mail or web address.• A traditional Russian company structure usually looks like a Christmas tree rather than a pyramid.Branches are not connected between themselves but are strongly attached to the main trunk providingresources, communication and leadership. The boss is sitting at the very top and controlling all theorganisation.• The position and importance of an employee in the company is based on the relationship he has with thetop man. The level of confidence is the most important indicator and individual qualifications and experienceare of a secondary meaning.• Business traditions in Russia are different and speaking about Western business ethics in Russia can beonly used as a means to make the Russian counterparts laugh.• In most cases a bribe is the only way to finalise a contract with a state run company – it is tradition.• Showing respect for seniority and recognising the hierarchical structure is vital for establishing andmaintaining healthy business relationships.• The attitude towards time is normal. You should be polite and come on time, being 5 minutes late istolerated, but nobody will wait for you longer than 15 minutes. On their part, a few minutes is of littleimportance, and they will not feel bad keeping you waiting for half an hour or so.• Shake hands firmly when greeting and leaving and make direct eye contact to show where you arestanding.• Physical contact between males such as so called ‘little bear’ embracing or kissing prove only their friendlyintentions. Touching during business meetings such as a hand on your arm or even embracing is a positivesign. There is no word for privacy in Russian; therefore the notion of individual social space almostdoesn’t exist.• Business cards are good practice. Ensure that one side is printed in Russian and the other in English.When receiving a card it is polite to read it carefully before putting it away.• Go for small talk, which normally involves talk of your family, your money and your personal matters,before dealing with their business. p. 4
  5. 5. • Bring a gift that symbolises your company and shows the importance of the impending business deal. Itcan be an item characteristic of your local area (a bottle of local alcohol) or one that displays your companylogo (a bottle of alcohol with the logo on the label).• To begin a meeting, the head of the organisation will open the discussion, the others are there to listen.Everybody remembers about their place in the hierarchy tree.• Personal and informal contact is a central part in doing business. Many principal concerns are discussedin an informal environment, but the final negotiations will be conducted most often in office settings.• Friendship first, then business is a Russian business motto. In Russia contracts are signed betweenfriends and it is normal to divide potential partners into ‘ours’ and ‘strangers’.• In situations of conflict avoid taking an official stance and remember that Russians are people orientatedand will respond better to a more personal approach.• In business negotiations, Russians can view your willingness to compromise as a sign of weakness.• You shouldn’t praise or reward anyone in public as it may be viewed with suspicion or cause envy. InRussia still the collective rules over the individual.• Paperwork and putting pen to paper is an essential part of all working practices in Russia. In general, theyhave little faith in unstamped and unsigned documents.• Nowadays faxes and emails are the best way to send documents when you are away. The Russian mailcan often be unreliable.• At the same time, the Russians prefer direct contact to a fax or mail. As a result, effective businessmaking starts when you create an opportunity to speak directly to your counterpart. If the initial writtencontact is not followed with direct conversation, they believe you are not interested any more in the particularproject.• It is up to the calling party to call several times if unsuccessful at first. It is not a very common practise inRussia to ‘call back’ so leaving a message doesn’t solve your problem.• It is customary before making a trip to Russia to inform the prospective company in advance of yourintended business proposals and objectives.• If youre coming for a business meeting, it is usually considered polite on their part to "attach" a specialperson to you, who will show you the city, take you to the most important sights, help you with your Russian,and get you the best room in the hotel. You might also be offered traditional Russian adventures, such as avisit to a public steam-bath (Russian banya) and a few shots of vodka in a local bar or at somebodys place.• Banya, or Russian sauna, is a place where you meet only verified male partners. You can expect onlyabout half an hour of the real sauna fun at the highest possible temperature. Then it is time for business.Usually, they come to banya to sit at the table, eat, drink and discuss business details in an informal setting.You must not say ‘No’ when invited to banya or you lose business. p. 5
  6. 6. • Because they believe that asking questions means lack of knowledge or professionalism, they veryseldom ask questions during a discussion. Asking a Russian ‘Do you understand’, or ‘Do you know what Imean’ proves lack of respect and good manners on your side.• When listening to you, a Russian will not show any signs communicating understanding, no bodylanguage, and after you finish he will keep quiet for a moment. It is the Russian way of showing their respectand appreciation.• During a business meeting you can expect at first a rather cold, reserved introduction, but later, if theyare truly interested in doing business with you, they can be very informal, emotional, very expressive andeven personal. It can start with some quiet conversation and go up to shouting.• Be aware of different connotations they give to some common expressions. If Russians say ‘No Problem’they mean they are not interested in the topic because it is not important. ‘It will be difficult” means they willdo it; it is a promise, but it will requires some effort.• Apart from the ‘official’ language, they developed specific slang called ‘mat’ and a language of gestureshelping in non-verbal communication. You should have a good interpreter to be effective and to understandthe true meaning when dealing particularly with rich Russians.• Russians negotiate ‘win-win’ only with friends. Others will have to be prepared for ‘win-lose’ outcome. InRussia ‘compromise’ means ‘yield’, and ‘yield’ means ‘lose’, and lose means lose your authority andimportance, so you should not expect to strike a deal when meeting a new partner for the first time.• In business, they prefer to have exclusive rights... to a product, to business, even to doing business withthe same person. It makes breaking the ice difficult but then can prove to be a beneficial feature of dealingwith Russians.• When going for your Russian visa remember that the procedure is invented for your own good and if itwill not discourage you, the chances are you will even enjoy visiting that exotic, Eastern country./ more info: MikeW, 07 865 934 240 / p. 6