Business Practices in Russia

Overview by
The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
2 fundamental values can be distinguished in Russian business culture:
- collectivism, born of history, which centralizes cooperation and collaboration. But this does not mean that hierarchy does not exist.
- the famous "Russian soul" which puts personal relations, understanding, time spent together and emotion at the center of business relations.
First Contact
Use e-mail or fax rather than the post which is not reliable. If you are preparing a business trip to Russia, it is usual to inform the company you are targeting well ahead of time.
Russians like direct contact and use the telephone a lot. Secretaries filter calls.
Meetings are often cancelled. To avoid unpleasant surprises, try to confirm your meetings regularly.
Russians feel more comfortable when an intoduction is made by a third party.
It is important to shake hands firmly (especially with men) and to look your partner in the eye.
It is common to begin by talking about personal matters (the family, for example) to get to know each other better before starting to talk business.
How to Present Yourself
Introductions are made in order of importance.
Full names are used as well as positions. You can also make do with giving your surname.
Do not forget the titles of people you meet, these are very important. When you become closer, you may call someone by his/her first name and patronymic (ending in "itch" for men, "ovna" for women).
Business Relations
Professional relations are often coupled with personal relations. Even if it is not compulsory, it is an important aspect of the relationship. It is very important for a Russian to build up confidence through a steady relationship.
A Russian will not be afraid to show his feelings or his emotions, especially if he feels at ease. Do not be afraid to do the same.
Giving gifts is a custom in Russia. They show the stature of the person giving, and underline the importance of the meeting.
Choose personalized gifts: those representing the region or the country you come from or bearing the logo of your company.
Business Communication
The ideas set out must be clear.
You must be patient. Negotiations are often long and Russians do not like to be rushed. Saying that you are in a hurry may have the opposite effect to the one you expected.
Russians consider compromise to be a sign of weakness. They may show anger in an attempt to put pressure on you. Be firm.
No contract is binding until it is signed. If a lot of the discussions may take place informally in a restaurant, the finalization will always take place at the office in an austere setting.
Dress Code
The dress code is generally very formal and conservative. Russians are fashion conscious and often spend a lot of money on brand name suits.
Very dark or white shirts are saved for special occasions. Particular attention is paid to shoes which must always be impeccably polished.
Women wear colored suits, with below-the-knee skirts.
Visiting Cards
Visiting cards are essential. They are exchanged formally after the introduction.
If possible, one side should be printed in English (or French) and the other in Russian. Hold the card out so that the Russian side can be read.
You can include your university degrees on your visiting card.
For Further Information

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