There are plenty of English books dedicated to the Russian etiquette and all the things that should be taken into consideration by those who plan to visit Russia.
Unfortunately, most of these tips are out-of-date or simply deceitful. What is even more, the Russians find them ridiculous. However, there are still some unwritten rules of the Russian etiquette that should not be forgotten throughout your trip to Russia.
The Communist imprint on the Russian etiquette
In the Soviet times there was the following leading principle – “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.
As a result, people had to follow certain code of conduct, otherwise they risked to make an ass of themselves or even get into bigger troubles.
Thus, the Russians pay great attention to other people, including their reception, situational behavior, facial expressions and other things. This behavioral peculiarity can be clearly seen in public transport. When someone gets on a bus, they look around and the rest of passengers also check them out.
Although the USSR collapsed about 25 years ago and a new generation of the Russians have already grown up, some people can still approach you in a pedestrian subway and say that you are getting in their way. In their opinion, you are going too slowly or too fast. In fact, it does not really matter how you walk. The right reaction would be to nod, slightly smile and pass them by. If you apologize, it can cause even more accusations. Your manner of walking has nothing to do with such complains. The reason for this rude behavior is low self-esteem of your accuser.
What is lost in the modern Russian etiquette
The following traditional rites have almost disappeared from the Russian everyday life.
The Russian etiquette: greetings
A firm handshake. In fact, many Russians prefer to greet the people they know by simply nodding or waving their hand. Not every man uses the so-called “firm” handshake, let alone a woman. A friendly handshake is much more common. If a person is calm and high-spirited, a handshake will be nice and amiable. You can learn more about handshakes here.
Three kisses on the cheek. Today the tradition has become rare. Many Russians saw this element of etiquette only in old or historic movies.
A common greeting. You can surely greet the Russians in the same manner you greet people in other countries, by shaking their hand or slightly nodding your head. If a person extends their hand for a handshake, you should take it to avoid possible awkwardness.
The Russian etiquette: going to parties
Today the Russians prefer to meet outside their homes. Even friends choose some place that can be easily reached by all of them and spend quality time there. It is easier that way, and no one needs to cook food and tidies up after guests go away. Now few people gather at someone’s house. If the Russians invite you to come over to their home, though, it means that they think highly of you and trust you.
Taking off your shoes. While receiving guests, many Russians no longer ask them to leave outdoor footwear in a hall. You can get more detailed information on house shoes here.
Coming in time. As a rule, the Russians do not expect their guests to come in time. It is especially true for the situation when they invite many guests. No one will frown upon if you show up half an hour late. However, you should not arrive too late, otherwise hosts will think that you have lost your way and will try to reach you on the cell phone.
Setting the table with a hostess. There is no need to offer your assistance in such a situation regardless of any tips provided by reputable British websites. What is even more, you will give offence to a hostess if you try to help her. She is most likely to spend a lot of time and effort for cooking her special dish.
The Russian etiquette: other situations
Nowadays Russian women do not have to wear only skirts. However, it is prohibited to go to churches and cathedrals wearing revealing clothes. It may be quite surprising when girls come to churches with covered heads, but wear extremely short skirts.
There is another strange piece of advice that forbids you to refuse an offer of vodka or other hot beverages. Today many Russians do not drink alcohol. Yes, that is absolutely true!
The suggestion to keep a serious face while in Russia also seems ridiculous. The Russians do not smile to strangers (learn more details here). At the same time if a person does not experience some significant troubles, they can easily smile around people in public places.
There are also many tips for attending business meetings. In Russia the rules of a business meeting and business etiquette can seriously vary. It depends on a company or even a receiving party, rather than a form of ownership (a state or private organization). That is why some meetings can be really long and include all official procedures, while the others can last roughly for an hour and end after proper documents are signed! It is better to start business communication in a conservative manner and expect that your official meeting will include several stages. However, you should be ready to change the course of the business meeting to keep up with more dynamic colleagues.
The Russian etiquette: things to avoid
The Russians are very tolerant of foreigners. The only way to irritate them is to behave saucy or even like a ruffian.
There are some topics to avoid in conversation with the Russians like politics, religion, money, etc. You should also avoid making critical comments about anyone or anything.
However, these topics consider to be rude all over the globe.
If you want to start a conversation with a Russian, it will be a good idea to mention what you like in Russia.