20 May Cultural Intelligence Tips on Doing Business in Russia


Global trade and multinational businesses continue to grow and expand, and modern transportation and mobile technologies bring together people from all around the world. International business etiquette, cross-cultural intelligence and cultural savoir-vivre paired with multi-lingual communication form an essential skill set if you aspire to be successful doing business with international companies.

During international travel and while dealing with business assignments overseas, the profound knowledge of and the honest respect for cultural differences as well as flawless intercultural communication will make you stand out among other companies and help you achieve even your most ambitious business goals.

We are delighted to present our “Cultural Intelligence” series , where we share weekly business etiquette advice relevant for CEOs, managers and employees involved in international business – one country at a time.




  • In business settings – other than in private meetings – women dress conservatively and avoid colourful and eye-catching dresses.
  • It is considered as rude to stand with your hands in your pockets as it is to chew gum.
  • Men should always take off any head coverings and women should always cover their heads while visiting a Russian Orthodox Church.
  • Take off your gloves while shaking hands with someone – it is considered impolite not to. This rule applies equally to men and women.
  • Foreigners are usually expected to appear on time to business meetings. If your Russian counterpart is late, he might be just testing your patience. Don’t expect an apology and be patient. If your business appointments begins one or even two hours late.
  • Patience is one of the most important and esteemed virtues among Russians. If you are rather impatient, you might want to practice a little prior to your business trip.
  • At social events, it is acceptable for foreigners to arrive 15 to 30 minutes late.
  • Older Russians may still see compromise as a sign of weakness. Once you find that out about your Russian business counterpart, you will be able to adapt your business strategy and communication accordingly.
  • Negotiations with Russians often involve lively debate and opinions are encouraged.
  • ‘Final Offers’ may not necessarily mean the end of the negotiations, and if you show trust and patience, in the end the outcome will be more beneficial and attractive for you.
  • There is a Russian term for influential connections – it implies that it is useful to have some kind of a local ally who can introduce you to the “cultural niceties” of the Russian business machinery.
  • It is always a good idea to have your business cards translated so that one side shows your contact details in Russian/Cyrillic script, and the other in English preferably. Make sure you have a sufficient amount on you at all times as it is likely that you will meet many influential people, especially during business networking events.


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