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Russian Cultural Differences in Business Essay

First of all, considering that Russian is my native language, I will warn that it is extremely hard for an American to learn Russian. Grammar is difficult, and we use the Cyrillic alphabet. But this will not be a big problem because every person with higher education in Russia speaks English fluently; we start learning English from 2-3 grades at school. Secondarily, names. Referring to one another by the first name is acceptable only between truly close friends, when meeting with someone-simply state your last name. Typically, Russians use three names: the first name, the last name, middle name is father’s first name, known as a patronymic. Here is an example, I will use my name: Elvira Viktorovna Stasescu. When you become well familiar with an individual, you may be asked to call him or her by the first and patronymic names. One more thing to remember, this made me confused when I came to USA, the date format. Here is the order of the date-06/04/2012; this is today’s date, which is April 4th 2012.

Physical contact among Russians is uncommon, especially if you see the person for the first time. Although some gestures may be used, be cautious to control your own. The American OK (thumb and index finger) and ‘V’ signs are offensive gesticulations in Russia. Smacking the open hand over a fist can also be a bad-mannered gesture. Standing with your hands in your pockets may be considered impolite. The thumbs-up signal is positive as it indicates agreement. Eye contact should be recurrent, nearly to the point of staring, it expresses honesty and helps form trust. Speak in a tranquil, modest, tone of voice at all times. Speaking or laughing at the top of your voice in public is discouraged. Russians enjoy giving and receiving gifts. Gifts are normal for social events, especially as “thank-you”. If you invited to a Russian colleague house, bring a gift such as chocolates, cakes, good wine, and flowers for every woman in the house.

And if you are about to buy some flowers for Russian women, bring the odd number, even number of flowers is used only for funerals, same with yellow flowers. Russian business culture has a deeply rooted hierarchy, although the state no longer dominates business as much as it used to. Managers have authority over their juniors and are eventually accountable for the concluding decision. Although you may give your presentation in English, it is important that any material and documents be printed in Russian. Praising and rewarding anyone in public are noticed only with mistrust. It will take a long time for conclusions to be made in Russia, we are particularly suspicious. The handshake is common. The Russian version is a strong hold with a number of quick shakes between two men.

If you about to shake hands with a woman, wait until she extends her hand first. Take off your gloves before the handshake. Whistling in a home or other indoor spaces is unacceptable, and it is even referred as a superstition that it will cause a serious monetary damage. Russians feel very much susceptible by uncertain circumstances; it will take a long time to win their trust. Negotiations should be extremely detailed, well prepared and with brief explanations. Russians have a preference to have perspective and background material.

Russians appear remarkably formal and distant. Although, formality is considered as a sign of respect. Russia is collectivist country; people belong to groups that take care of them in exchange for reliability. We use more often word “We” instead of “I”. Another example, if you are telling a story about you and your colleagues, you will name your colleagues names first and your name at the end. “The international manager reconciles cultural dilemmas” – the quote by Fons Trompenaars means that in order to succeed on international market, we must know the cultural values and assumptions differences between the countries we conduct our business.


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