(Refer our High Quality Management Encyclopedia “Management Universe” at: http://management-universe.blogspot.com/)
Russia: Etiquette and Manners
http://executive-manners.blogspot.com/ for general/executive etiquette and manners,
http://dining-manners.blogspot.com/ for dining etiquette and table manners,
http://telephone-etiquette.blogspot.com/ for telephone etiquette,
http://email-etiquette-manners.blogspot.com/ for email etiquette)
- Business meetings are arranged by appointments. Fix up your appointment well in advance. Confirm the meeting a day or two in advance and also when you arrive in the country.
- Lead time for governmental appointments can be even six months.
- Russians are business like and logically, as such, you do need have to necessarily establish long standing personal relationships before doing business with them. Yet it may be a good idea to develop network of people who you know and trust and also look out for connections in high places. This can help facilitate to cut through the red tape often encountered in Russia.
- Avoid planning your business meetings in first week of May since it is filled with many public holidays.
- Arrive in time for the meetings. Punctuality is important.
- Things get delayed often and even the meeting schedules keep changing. The meetings may even get cancelled. So be prepared for this and to be kept waiting. Yet, keep your cool.
- Dress formally and conservatively for business meetings. Men are advised to wear business suits. Women should wear subdued colored business suits with skirts covering the knees.
- Look impeccable.
- Hierarchy (i.e. age, rank/position) is important to Russians. They prefer to meet up with the people of similar rank and position.
- Shaking hands is the accepted form of exchanging greetings in a formal setting like a business meeting.
- Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions without any formal ritual. Have one side of your business card done in Russian language. Make sure to print your advanced university degrees on your business card; it impresses Russian audience.
- Most of the Russians are most comfortable with Russian language (around 81% people in Russia speak Russian language as their first and only language. It's also Russia's official language). Therefore, let your Russian counterparts in the meetings see Russian side of your business card.
- In case some participants of the meeting do not present their business cards to you, you should still note their details.
- Meetings start with good amount of socializing and introductory exchanges before getting down to business.
- In formal situations, address the people more formally rather than using their first names. (Russian names have three parts: first name, then middle name, which is a version of the father's first name formed by adding "vich" or "ovich" for a male and "avna" or "ovna" for a female followed by the third part which is the family or surname).
- Make detailed presentations and emphasize your organization's differentiating features. It is advisable to bring along your technical experts with you. Keep ready the handouts in English as well as in Russian.
- Don't be surprised if meetings get interrupted frequently for reasons not necessarily connected with the meetings.
- Meetings and negotiations are slow. You must have patience.
- Russians use a lot of tactics in business negotiations like prolonging the talks (buying/lengthening the time), losing temper, walking out, threatening to call off the association etc. They believe in somehow grabbing a concession from you. So, it is advisable not to use high pressure tactics.
- Nothing is final until the contract is signed. Even then, Russians may modify a contract to suit their purpose.
- At the end of meeting, you may need to sign the summary of discussions of the meeting called "protokol".
- If you are invited to a Russian's house, reach there on time. Being marginally late by a few minutes is OK.
- Remove your shoes and wear the house slippers if offered by the host.
- Do not be too casual in your dress. Err on dressing in formal or semi-formal clothes.
- Greet the host and hostess by a hand-shake and address formally. You may notice their close friends hugging and kissing on cheeks and addressing each other by the first name or by the first two parts of their names.
- Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served. Offering this help second time may be accepted by the hostess.
- Give a small gift to the host/hostess which may be politely refused the first time. Offer it again and it will be accepted.
- Russians follow continental dining manners and use fork and knife.
- Follow all the usual table manners.
- Take your seat as suggested by the host and start eating only after the host requests you to start. Same way, do not leave your seat after you finish eating till the host requests you to do so.
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