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Last Updated: 04/18/2014
  1. Russians do not trust each other readily. If you want your staff to develop and work as autonomous teams, you need to create and maintain mutual trust.
  2. Read one of the "great" Russian novels — whether you choose "Dead Souls", "Crime and Punishment" or "Anna Karenina", they will give you great insights into Russian culture.
  3. Get out of Moscow. The pace of life is very different and you will get a snapshot of the "real" Russia.
  4. Russians are people-people and if you are to build your team you must take time to create relationships with your colleagues. It may seem a slow process but it will produce real long term benefits.
  5. Never forget a close colleague's birthday.
  6. Use the Metro in Moscow or the other cities. It is cheap, quick and even with only simple Cyrillic, easy to use.
  7. When speaking English, never assume that you have been understood.
    Russian do not like losing face and admitting in front of colleagues that they have not understood English would risk that happening. They are likely to just sit there and say nothing!
  8. Bear in mind that during the winter months there is very little sunlight. You and your colleagues are thus very susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the clinical depression that goes with it.
  9. Learn a bit of Russian — even if just the ability to read Cyrillic — it will make your life so much easier.
  10. Ask your colleagues which restaurants and bars they go to — not only will you have a real Russian experience but you will probably save money too.
  11. Remember money is not the only driver for Russians when they are job hunting — conditions of employment and the range of benefits offered can mean much more.
  12. Do not be modest in talking about your education and qualifications.
    Russians respect study and learning.
  13. Drinking in Russia may be on a scale that you are not used to. Pace yourself and if you have any doubts then only sip during toasts.
  14. A successful negotiation in Russia requires above all that the relationship between the parties be built first. You need to take time in the early stages to do this.
  15. There is no bad weather in Russia — just bad clothes and shoes.
    Prepare yourself properly for the winter.
  16. Russian employees may seem to make long and chatty phone calls. This is all part of building and maintaining the relationships that are so critical to business life in Russia.
  17. Russia is a safe country if you use your common sense. Avoid railway stations at night, nightclubs with lots of black limos parked outside and groups of skinheads on the streets and you will be safe.
  18. Russians are problem avoiders rather than problem confronters — you need to develop a high degree of trust in your colleagues before they will come to you to tell you about something that has gone wrong.
  19. The Russian view of time is similar to that in many Latin cultures — meetings will rarely start or end on time nor will people always arrive at work punctually.
  20. Be very careful about making comparisons with "home". Russians know very well that the infrastructure in Russia is bad — although improving — and do not need foreigners to point this out to them.
Russia for Beginners cover

Russia for Beginners

"The issues raised in this book, by authors who all have experience with maintaining business relations in Russia, are sure to be useful, not only for business people, but also for anyone else interested in our country."

Elvira S. Nabiullina
Minister for Economic Development
Russian Federation