October 21, 2021

Healy Consultants Group Blog

Company registration, Offshore incorporation, Global corporate services

The Do’s of doing business in Russia


Russia, the largest country on earth with over 150 million people and vast quantities of natural resources, is diverse and operates quite differently from Europe and the rest of the world. As the Russian Ruble bottoms out and the economy has nowhere to go but up, check out the following guide to prepare yourself for your next business meeting in Russia:

Do Dress formally

The men tend to wear dark suits with ties and polished dress shoes. The men will often leave their jacket on during meetings. Avoid standing with your hands in your pockets as this is seen as rude. Women are expected to dress conservatively with arms covered. Skirt suits (with knee length skirts) are seen as more appropriate than pants suits for women. Never show the soles of your shoes or place them on seats as this is perceived as extremely rude.

Do expect to wait

Expect to wait for your hostsPatience is considered to be one of the great virtues in Russia and this will often be tested during business negotiations. You are expected to be on time for meetings but your host may keep you waiting (Could be up to 2 hours!). Try to stay calm and hang in there. Russians are also deemed to be great ‘sitters’ and are quite content to sit for many hours in negotiations. Come to the meeting prepared with business cards – better still – Prepare business cards with English on one side and Russian on the other side and create a great impression.

Do get titles and credentials right

Russians will greet you with a firm handshake and direct eye contact which you can return in kind. Make sure you know their correct name and title as using their first name or the wrong title will not go down well. You can use their first name only if they invite you to do so.

Do remain calm

Flare ups are quite common in meetings in Russia to the point where a Russian colleague could actually walk out on you. Stay calm and collected; do not lose your temper as this will not reflect well on you. Russians love negotiating and will take their time. Their ‘final offer’ may not actually be the final outcome so do hang in there and be patient. Don’t be surprised if your Russian colleague answers the phone during a business meeting, this is considered the norm in Russia but doesn’t mean that you should also do it.

Do be social

Russians love to socialize and of course to drink but they have a good work/life balance and tend to keep work and their social life separate. They can appear abrupt and serious at work as they like to stay focused and get the work done so they can get home. While the days of downing numerous vodka shots to seal the deal are over, do be open to toasting with a drink and prepared to chat socially. Good topics to talk about are peace in the country, Russian business and changes taking place in Russia.

Do bring a gift

Gifts are greatly appreciated in Russia and they help build good relationships. If you are visiting a business associate’s home then a bottle of wine, bouquet of flowers or a nice hamper will be gratefully received. Avoid bringing vodka as a present as this can be seen as an insult.

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