SOCIAL CUSTOMS Россия глазами американцев
1. Babushka’s (Grandmothers) often center of families. Take care of children and are tough. They will take
no grief from anyone. They will push you on Metro or out of way at store to get to front of line.
Russia is child centered society. Most absolutely love their children.
Children become a good discussion point, when you have become friends.
The new Russians have different set of values than older Russians. They
often are focused upon conspicuous consumption and acquisition.
This is difficult period for pensioners. The are often poor, resentful
of government inaction and afraid that society has left them behind, and
questioning if anyone still appreciates their contributions.
Role of "Kitchen Culture” You have been accepted into Russian society,
when you can sit late at night in a Russian kitchen with borscht bread,
vodka and discuss philosophy. Be prepared for longer and more intense
personal discussions than most Americans are accustomed to.
You will see war memorials in each city…and veterans with their ribbons.
The war killed one of three people in many places and was shaping event
for that generation. Russians have great difficulty understanding why
we pay so little attention to past wars.
7. If you are invited to
homes, bring candy, flowers or a bottle of wine or liquor. Never refuse
an invitation to a home or dacha. It is in homes that you really get to
8. Remember March 8th, which is International
Women’s Day. You will give gifts to the women in our office. If you are
either working in Russia or with them on teams, remember to give gifts
or congratulate them on that day.
9. Little business is done in
last half of December or first part of January and half of May during
holidays. Plan ahead on your projects knowing that many are on holiday
or not in office. It is worst time to schedule meetings.
10. Don’t forget thirteen day difference in holidays between Julian and Gregorian calendars…for Russian Christmas.
11. Number of Russian traditions. These include:
leave your shoes at doors of homes or apartments, They will give you
slippers. It is rude to walk barefoot or in stocking feet.
* Do not give a birthday card early, but at party or later. If you give it early, it is considered bad luck.
* Never, ever forget a Russian birthday. It is a major event.
You are expected to have the ability to present toasts during events as
well as knowing anecdotes. Russians have one of the most visible senses
of humor of any nation.
* You are expected to be able to discuss
art, literature and culture. Russians view Americans as lacking in
culture. Russians read three times as many books as we do. Even if poor,
in book stores concerts and read newspapers and books on Metro. You
will se many children take out a book as soon as they sit down on Metro.
* Never shake hands across a threshold. It is considered bad luck and many believe it will lead to an argument.
* Never shake hands with your gloves on. It is an insult.
* Never make sign "Ok” with fingers. It is considered very low class and rude.
* Avoid the peace sign "V” with second and third fingers and palm facing inward. It is the same as giving them a finger.
* It is best to give a thumbs up if you approve or really like something…
Never criticize Russian history or society. They wish to forget some
eras and Russians wish to be proud of their history and heritage.
* Never tell them how America is more advanced. In many cases now, it is not true.
* Never use profanity, especially around women. You will lose all credibility and be seen a low class.
* Never sound like we are lecturing them. They wish to be seen as equals and resent greatly if someone appears to be better.
* When in Russian churches, women should wear scarves and conservative dresses.
* It is considered bad luck to light a cigar from a candle on a restaurant table.
* Monday is considered a bad to begin a journey or business venture.
* A cat should be the first creature to cross the threshold of a new home.
Women should never sit at the corner of a dinner table. It is felt they
will never marry for seven years. It is also felt that such bad luck
will come to men.
* Spitting three times over one’s shoulders prevents bad news.
Russians rarely point or wag a finger at others across a table. Never
point or gesture with your knife or any implement during dinner. It is
the height of rudeness and bad breeding.
* If offered seconds, always accept, even if a small portion. It is an insult to refuse.
* If you are seated before the other guests arrive, arise to be introduced to them. Do not remain seated.
* When giving flower, remember to give an odd number of roses or flowers. Do not give an even number.
* Do not wear bluejeans or t–shirts to a home of a business associate but can wear these to a dacha.
* Snapping your finger against your neck indicates that someone else has or will be drinking alcohol.
* Do not speak or laugh too loudly in public.
* Never pour wine backhanded. This is insulting.
* Do not wear your outdoor coat indoors.
* Do not have luncheons on park lawns.
* Always sit quietly for a moment of joint silence, if leaving for trip.
* Knock on wood three times to avoid bad luck.
12. If you are invited for dinner make no other plans for that evening. You will be there a long time.
Toast are always for the hostess first, then for women and then for
others. When you are ready to leave, there will be order of
"passashock”, which have a historical tradition to them. After toasts.
clink glasses, unless you had non–alcoholic beverage in glass.
14. Always reconfirm all appointments.
15. At concerts and events, applause will be rhythmic to show approval.
Russians will be aware of every person playing in the NHL, and often
the NBA but will be completely baffled by American football(real
football is soccer) or baseball. You will never be able to fully explain
the rules of baseball, so try and learn something about hockey or
17. Russians love to fish. If you are a fisherperson,
or often a hunter, you are on path to being considered a good human
being in Russia.
18. Nothing is eve really considered broken in
Russia, but simply has not yet been fixed.. This is true of cars,
machines,etc. Russian are extremely innovative, because for years had to
fix everything with no spare parts.
19. Russians often consider
payoffs to service people as normal. It included a bottle to the
plumber, payments to the doctor for special treatment. The concept of
"blat”..It is better to have 100 friends than 100 rubles.
true Russian comes out at the dacha(summerhouse). Potatoes and
vegetables are planted and bottled. Like our lake houses. "Shashlik”
done by men, with special recipes. Now developing year round places near
cities. Often, the families will move to dacha for the summer.
21. Russians do not like lines. Will often push ahead to get to front.
You will see many women standing in apartment yards, gossiping and
taking care of their children. The concept of "doing lunch” with other
women is new and often limited to upper classes.
23. People watch
television, but don’t believe what they see or read. They understand
that information is controlled, but believe that is normal way of life,
which they have always known and don’t have many other choices.
Russians will not share secrets with strangers. There is tradition of
not speaking openly on phone, if possible, but rather in person. There
is strong feeling that much information is private and they will share
it only if have become trusted.
25. There is a zero sum mentality
among many Russians. Often difficult to get different groups to work
together, because they feel their ideas or position will be stolen.
Russians have seen little benefit in Democracy and much of capitalism
is seen as benefiting small groups of elites or criminals.
Dancing in restaurants very popular. There will be guards to throw out
drunks by about 10:00. This also cuts down on fight between drunks.
28. Russians love to walk, even in winter in center of Moscow and other cities.
29. Russians love ice cream, even in coldest parts of year.
As part of wedding celebrations go to Sparrows Hill near Moscow State
University or to Eternal Flame at Kremlin. Actual ceremonies very small
with larger wedding parties following.
31. Many of new rich have homes in London, Spain, Cyprus and France.
32. It is considered sign of middle class success to go abroad two or three times per year.
33. Many Russian women believe Russian men lazy or won’t cook or help around the house, or drink too much.
34. Many women have had abortions–Do not see this as moral or political issue and cannot understand why Americans discuss issue.
35. Many Russians strongly anti–homosexual, but have known gay clubs and public officials.
36. See government as separate from citizens, not as "We the people” are the government
37. Just developing concept of long term credit and mortgages on houses and cars. Often pay fully or in two parts for houses.
38. Still strong fear of failure. See failure as end and not just bump in road.
Love to have guests at homes or at dachas, but usually need to call
ahead and set future time, rather than just dropping in because you were
40. Make appointments but reconfirm a few days before, the day before appointment, and often even the day of meeting.
41. Touching and walking arm in arm is considered acceptable for friends both male and female.
42. Russians rarely speak with people they don’t know on streets or metro, not like small town Minnesota.
43. Coats are kept at the "gardarobe” at concerts and events…You will usually leave small tip for attendants.
44. Russian tipping is usually smaller than our ten or fifteen percent…except at fancy restaurants.
45. Russian circuses are considered very special and being a clown is an honored profession.
Ethnicity is viewed differently in Russia than in US. There are White
or great Russians and then everyone else. Caucasians are dark skinned
and have most discrimination and looked down upon and often are the
people you see working in public markets.
47. Will do "Chuckchen” jokes..they are the Iowa jokes…
48. Stay away from demonstrations. May be seen as participant and you have no rights.
49. Americans are clearly identified on streets because of our shoes, haircuts, the way we look confident and walk and smile.
People dress well at work men in suits and women in dresses and make
up. Most Russians consider us unfashionable when they come her and
wonder why there are so many fat people. There is an old Russian proverb
which states” They want to meet you depending on how you’re dressd and
they say goodbye depending upon how wise you seem.”
51. Never do drugs in Russia. There is strong drug culture, but if you are caught, you have no rights.
There are limits on taking money out of country…You can ask for
declaration, or have bank statement and other times are just waved
through..no problem taking money into Russia.
53. Get to airport early. Lines move slowly and they will take everything out of suitcases at Delta at Sheremetevo Airport.
Remember that hierarchy and position is very important in Russian
organization. Where you are in any organization often defines your
status and that a distance exists both organizationally and
psychologically between workers on different levels.
DO AND DON’T LIST
Never schedule meetings too closely together. Everything take extra
time. Do not schedule 9–10–11:00 meetings unless everyone already in
2. Traffic is always clogged in Moscow. Taking Metro is faster, if office and locations near station.
3. Take hotels near to the location of your meetings, if possible.
Tips usually small in average restaurants. In fancy restaurants, larger
tips. Ask what proper level should be. Always check to see if service
fee already placed on bill, especially if it is a group.
can call people later in Russia than here…it is acceptable until
10:30–11:00 at night. Much of Moscow is on the phone late at night.
6. Don’t call anyone "Comrade.” It is not seen as good humor.
7. Don’t shake hands or kiss over doorway. It is seen as bad luck.
8. Do not whistle inside buildings.
9. Be prepared to make toasts. Remember the order of hostess, women, friends, partners, friendship, kindness and Passacholk.
Don’t drink during day or negotiations. Don’t drink to excess. Remember
that Russians can out drink you and you will never remember where you
were during negotiations.
11. Tell people openly if you don’t drink. Story.
Expect some sexism. It is a sexist society. You do not have to approve,
but understand the nature of the culture. For businesswomen you have to
show you have authority and competence.
13. Remember to bring
gifts,suchas flower, candies or liquor..Johnny Walker is a deeply loved
name. Something from Minnesota…Gophers, Vikings, Wild shirts, T–Wolves
books jellies..not wild rice
14. Bring presents for partners wives and children.
Expect "zakuskas” appetizer at meals, especially if you are at homes.
Do not fill up on appetizers because there will be three or four courses
in most meals at homes.
16. Never buy food off the street except
some hot dogs, but be careful…worry if meat cooked in peroshkis on
street. Always use bottled water. Ice cream ok.
17. Take your pills and stomach aids with you.
18. Most major stores now accept credit cards.
19. Be careful at ATM’s for identity theft. People watch and see numbers entered.
20. It is common to see men and women walk arm in arm and kiss if close friend on cheek.
Russian have different styles of showing their emotions. Can become
emotional in meetings and shout. You think relationship has been broken
but then see them telling jokes to each other few hours later. Russians
do not always treat others Russian well.
22. Russians remember any slight for many lifetimes and then beyond.
Treat people with respect. They feel that Americans tried to hurt them
during transition and now Russia is on the way up and U.S. is on way
down as power, and feel they are gaining a form of revenge.
Don’t say anything bad about Putin or Medvedev. You can discuss any area
of politics or religion or any subject, but not if it appears critical
of Russia of their leadership. This rule can only be modified
delicately, if you have become close friends.
25. Don’t pay
bribes. There are many forms and many possibilities. Some forms we
accept. Decide your limits…if these include trips, dinners, hospitality.
Sometimes thin line between what is acceptable in business and what is
over the line.
26. Be aware of jokes and anecdotes you tell. Russian love anecdotes.
Learn some before you go. You will be expected to tell some at dinner.
Jokes considered part of any good relationship. Jokes may not be
understood or translate well or be appropriate…and you will be
considered rude or critical. Tell of Chuckchens..
27. Many Russians anti–semitic and racists. Do not encourage with jokes or statements.
28. Be yourself. They have had many experiences with foreigner and can tell a phony quickly.
29. Never talk about how advanced the U.S. is…remember that many places for technically advanced and wealthy that we are.
30. Remember that they are highly educated and trained people and sincerely believe they are best technicians and engineers.
31. Always give praise to their wives and children, houses and dachas.
You will be nude in the sauna, so expect beatings with branches, hot
steam or dry heat, followed by extremely cold water or lake, with food
and liquor in between ad drinking and toasts.
33. At the dacha, you will have shashlik, drinking and walking and intense discussions.
On trains take toilet paper in pocket and hand wipes. It will smell if
long train. The toilets will become extremely dirty and often with hole
in floor. No one really keeps it clean on trains. It will have women
with small carts and dining cars with greasy sausages, potato chips,
candy, tea and ice cream.
35. On public buses will often be honor
system on some buses. Need to punch tickets in center of car. Often
have inspectors and can make major problems if you don’t have a ticket.
On Metro it is best to buy ticket for 10–20 rides, because of long line
and cost. Remember that many directions are based on Metro meetings,
”first car from center or Ring route. Ask about entrances, many stations
have more than one entrance and may find yourself many blocks from
where you planned.
37. Leave shoes at entrance to apartments and homes, They will provide slippers.
Russians see time differently than Americans. Russians are often 20
minutes behind because of traffic or the last meeting took longer than
they planned. You should be on time, but don’t be surprised if Russians
are late. If they are coming long distance, they will be late.
39. Learn the alphabet…only 6–7 letter are different, and now many signs on Metro are in English also.
40. Be able to discuss some culture and sports…..know some American writers plays and current events.
41. Never send birthday card early. It is bad luck. Give at birthday party or later.
Many Russians believe in spiritualism and alternative medicine.
Astrology, the paranormal, horoscopes and mystical treatments accepted
by many as part of life.
* Both Lenin and Stalin listened to astrologers and Yelstin also consulted astrologers.
* Breznev had a faith healer.
* Russians are mixture of East and West..Tolstoyan and Peter the Great.
43. Moscow nine hours ahead of Minnesota.
44. Major holidays:
* January 1 New Year’s Day
* January 7 Eastern Orthodox Christmas
* March 8 International Women’s Day
* April 1 Day of the Foundation of Commonwealth of Russia and Belarussia
* May 1 May Day or International Labor Day
* May 9 Victory Day End of WW II Defeat of Nazis
* June 12 Declaration of Independence Breakup of Soviet Union and end of Communism
* November 7 November Revolution Coming to Power of Communists
* December 12 Constitution Day Celebrates new Constitution of Russia which replaced Soviet Constitution
official national holidays, but celebrated are Good Friday, Easter
Monday as well as All Saints Day November 1 and Christmas Day
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