Traveling to Russia for business means being a newcomer to an office where everyone except you knows how to communicate with each other and with top management. In addition to abiding by some unique social codes and habits, Russian offices also have some special rules for communication between employees. If you are traveling to Russia for business, it is best to familiarize yourself with these simple rules before you go to avoid confusion. Of course, it is always better to know some basic Russian, but these rules will help you avoid big mistakes:
When addressing someone in Russia, use the formal version of the address until instructed otherwise. This includes calling people by their names, while in most Western offices everyone is immediately identified by name, in Russia it is customary to address everyone by their full name until they are told that it is acceptable to change only to names. The full name in Russian is structured as follows: Name + Paternal “middle” name + Surname. When you address someone formally, you only use the first two.
So, for example, if my name is Alexander Romanovich Blake, you should address me as “Alexander Romanovich” until I tell you that it is okay to call me “Alex.” The same will happen to you; people will try to address you by your full name; So it’s probably easier if you let everyone know right away that they can call you by name only (this is polite unless you’re a senior manager talking to your employees).
As a general rule, do not do business by phone in Russia. Russians are not used to this and in general it will be uncomfortable and unproductive. They rely heavily on body language in business and negotiations, so you’ll actually lower your chances of success by choosing to do business over the phone rather than in person.
Get everything in writing
Russians are unpredictable and impulsive and generally do not take spoken agreements seriously. Therefore, nothing is safe in Russia until you have it in writing. Don’t believe anyone who tries to convince you otherwise. Naturally, this is advantageous for those who do business with you to be able to change their mind and go back to your word at any time, but if you demand to have concrete agreements in writing, not only will they not care, but they will see that you are a person. astute businessman who knows what he is doing.
It may even earn you more respect.
Always make an appointment
Similar to the previous point, any meeting not agreed to in writing is not an established meeting. It is also rare for Russian businessmen to simply break into each other’s offices, it is considered rude. As such, be sure to schedule an appointment every time you want to have a discussion with someone in a Russian office. Once you make an appointment, be on time! Although the person you are meeting with may be late, it is unacceptable for the newcomer to be late for a meeting.
Always have business cards
Business cards are essential in Russian business relations and communications, and they are exchanged by everyone, everywhere. Always carry business cards with you. It may be helpful to translate them into Russian and have one side in Cyrillic and the other in English. Also, note that in Russia it is customary to place any university degree (particularly those above Bachelor’s level) on business cards.