In general, Russians tend to be suspicious of public praise, open displays of achievement, and compromise.
Getting to know your Russian colleagues personally can help you ease into this environment. But this requires honesty from your side, as it is an important element of building trust, and a key to building a strong relationship. Russian people shy away from doing business with someone they do not trust, and this is why establishing a solid connection is vital in this country.
If you are from the West, it is possible that your colleagues will believe that you are very experienced, and therefore will have high expectations. In order to be considered credible, make an effort to present yourself as dignified and confident as possible while still sustaining an air of friendliness and accessibility.
When building relations with individuals from Russia keep in mind that the most important factor is to make a good impression and to build trust:
- A common greeting is a very firm handshake. Be sure to learn all of the appropriate titles, as they are very important in Russian culture. Use the first name and patronymic to be on the safe side.
- Take time to study the recent history of Russia particularly since 1991, as it will help you understand the context of modern business in the country.
- Learning a few phrases in Russian can be very helpful. Say zdravstvuite, “z-drav-st-vui-teh,” when you shake hands in place of “hello.” It literally means “I wish you health,” and it is normally used to use to greet someone you do not know. This will show that you are interested in their culture
- Be cautious not to use too much Russian, as it can be misunderstood to mean that the English knowledge of the person to whom you are speaking is not adequate.
- Be patient. Everything takes time and careful planning; Russians do not like to rush.
- Do not be surprised if your colleagues are overly emotional and tempered. Consider this an integral part of the process of negotiation. Overall, compromise is contemplated a sign of weakness. Remain firm in your position and clearly outline the common advantages in your proposal.
- You will also make a good impression if you keep your impatience with the Russian system to yourself. Remember, change takes time. If you start complaining and ranting at someone, they will probably just shut down. Russians have a concept of ‘face’ similar to Asians, and ‘face’ must be saved at all times.
To sum up, the most effective and highly praised personality qualities to display with Russian people are patience, confidence, trustworthiness, reliability, intellectual and cultural knowledge, and the ability to interpret nonverbal cues. In general, try to make an overall positive impression and you will have an excellent and rewarding experience.
If you want to find out more about building relationship across cultures read this article:
“Build Strong Work Relations Across Cultures”