Russian Mentality

Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of area and is a federal multi-ethnic state. Therefore, not all Russians can be characterized in a general way. But there are some peculiarities of Russian mentality that can be highlighted.

Russians appreciate the precision, punctuality and systematic way of working of foreign partners and expect it from foreigners, even if they themselves are not always punctual and like to do many things at once.

Business with Russians develops gradually. This is also due to the fact that decisions in Russian companies, which are usually organized hierarchically, have to go through several approval stages. Hierarchies are respected in Russia. Russian managers show their power. They keep their distance from their employees and do not accept being blamed for mistakes. But every manager also has a superior of his or her own. No Russian will let on that they have limited authority, but they must get clearance from their superior to make decisions. Much is promised, but action often follows with delay. Stay in dialog and don’t get nervous. However, find out about the hierarchies and the decision-making process to ensure that the important people are involved. In many cases, decisions are then suddenly made by Russians without you being prepared. Conversely, Russian business partners welcome it when you explain to them the hierarchies and decision-making levels in your company. This creates trust.

Russians do not negotiate with business partners who are below them in the hierarchy. They like to put on airs themselves when it comes to their hierarchical level. Introduce yourself to Russian business partners with appropriate importance in your own company. Letters of reference from your employer can be very useful in this regard. Russians openly display their importance and success. Clothes, prestigious villas, flashy jewelry and expensive branded cars are suitable for this purpose. The more brand-conscious and expensive someone is dressed, the higher they are valued by Russian business partners. In Russia, someone who does not spend money on things they could afford is also not given credibility for being able to afford anything. Counter this assumption by bringing your business partner an expensive gift and telling him about your vacation home on the Mediterranean. You can’t go wrong with that.

How do you address Russian business partners? Russians usually call each other by their first name with the addition of their father’s first name. For men, the father’s first name is followed by “owitsch” or “jewitsch” and for women by “owna” or “jewna”. In business situations, Russians address each other with these two names. The family name is practically not used. Good acquaintances and friends are on first-name terms. In the meantime, however, the pre-revolutionary form of address with “gospodin” or, in the case of women, “godposcha” and the family name is making a comeback in Russia, which is close to the Western form. This form of address is increasingly being used in Russian companies with international operations.

Men greet each other with a handshake. When meeting women, the man waits until the woman offers him her hand; otherwise he greets her with a nod of the head. To warm up, Russians like to make small talk about expensive consumer goods: the new car, the new watch, the new smartphone.

Russian business partners welcome you in a very friendly manner and take a lot of time for you, but show few facial expressions and little emotion in initial encounters. In Russia, this is a sign of seriousness. Smiling is reserved for friends and family. If you receive a smile in your relationship with Russian business partners, you have made good progress in your relationship. As relationships develop, Russians and foreign business partners become closer than Germans are to each other. Hugs and pats on the back are common among Russian business partners. Physical closeness means familiarity to Russians.

Russians communicate very directly, more directly than most people fromk other countries. They also expect facts and actions from their business partners, not long talk. For all their directness, Russians can also be diplomatic in their expressions, especially in the presence of people from different hierarchies. They also avoid direct criticism. Because of the limited facial expressions and gestures of Russians, it is difficult for foreigners to read meanings “between the lines”.

To be successful in business in Russia, relationships are more important than expertise. Try to attract people with relevant relationships to your business goals and support them with competent professionals. Verbal communication in face-to-face meetings is much more effective in Russia than written exchanges.

Conversations with Russian business partners will always be interspersed with private topics. They will also often be unstructured, topics will jump, presenting complex contexts in one piece will be difficult. In order to achieve something despite this, experts recommend starting by agreeing on simple steps and then enriching them more and more.

Russians perceive it as a sign of weakness to compromise. They act with firmness. Dissuading them from a demand is difficult. Clearly state to your Russian business partner the disadvantages you would incur if you agreed to a compromise, so that they do not feel belittled.

Look also to the British mentality, the Swiss mentality, the Austrian mentality, the Spanish mentality, the Dutch mentality, the Scandinavian mentality, the French mentality, the Turkish mentality, the US-American mentality, the Italian mentality, the Latin American mentality, the Indian mentality, the Chinese mentality, the Japanese mentality, and the Arab mentality.


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