Personal Space

Personal space of Russians is considerably smaller than that of many other nations.


  • During the rush hour on a subway in Moscow, people stand very close to each other. Some passengers are so pressed against each other, that they can hardly breathe.
  • In lines, Russians stand quite close to each other, basically touching each other. And if the line moved – the Russians as a single organism would move forward with it.

How People React

Some people, especially foreigners, may even get angry. But those who are faced with such situations on a daily basishave long developed methods of artificial “expansion” of their personal space. Some people are glued to their smart phones, others look away, and some others simply focus on their thoughts. Here is a way out of dense crowding!

Cultural Peculiarities

Personal space of Russians is truly smaller than, for example, that of Finns. But it is bigger than that of Chinese, for instance.

These fun peculiarities are well observed on a plane. A Finn guy sitting next to me somehow managed to never touch me, despite being very tall and having long limbs, but the Chinese were the most relaxed, fun and carefree passengers.

And once I saw a conversation in one of the Scandinavian airports between a Russian lady and a female employee of the airport. Official duties did not allow the employee to step back, but she clearly leaned back to increase her personal space.

What about Small Villages?

It seems that in those places where there are few inhabitants, peopleshould have more personal space. And indeed, one neighbor can say hello to another neighbor standing tens of meters away.

But if you happen to find yourself in a forced situation, for example, in public transport, in close quarters, then your private space will get immediately reduced to the space of the inhabitants of bug cities.

Different Personal Spaces

A usual conversation between you and Russian people can be a kind of a dance: if your personal space if bigger than that of Russians, then in this dance you, without being aware of it, will be in a disadvantage.

Understanding this cultural feature will save you from jumping to conclusions about Russian people.


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