My 2 1 2 Year Old Cries All The Time Doing Business With Russians – How to Understand Russian Business Mindsets

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Doing Business With Russians – How to Understand Russian Business Mindsets

There are some basic mindsets of Russian business people. Anyone doing business in or with Russians in modern Russia would do well to know these, as much of business behavior is driven by mindset.

These five mindsets are

1. How things happen or don’t

2. Decision making – Hierarchy

3. The concept of time

4. Contacts – “Blat

5. Faith in one’s own system

6. Conspicuous consumption

How things happen or don’t

In Russia, how things do or do not happen is a mystery very difficult for outsiders to understand. For example, in neighboring Finland, things (except for matters related to politics) tend to be done in a fairly systematic, bureaucratic way, and the process is generally quite transparent. Nothing important happens in Russia without a crisis or high drama that forces people to act, and the forces behind such crises can remain hidden. When you’re caught in this “idle period,” don’t tell the Russians they’re lazy or inefficient. This is a big mistake. They are extremely proud of their culture, superpower status, and achievements such as space exploration.

Decision Making – Hierarchy

Russia is a very hierarchical society and decision-making processes are very different from Western (mainly Finnish and Swedish) models. The hierarchical nature of Russian society, with a very large power distance, is very important to remember when dealing with business. Who goes to whom in business relationships is crucial to success. Nowadays, Russian businessmen pay a lot of attention to the way they dress. Russians tend to spend more money from their family budgets on clothing than any other nation in the world. Those who cannot afford to buy clothes from high fashion brands (such as Versace, Armani or Hugo Boss) prefer to dress in cheaper but still well-made clothes. There is an old Russian proverb: “They want to meet you depending on how you dress, and they say goodbye depending on how wise you look.”

The concept of time

In neighboring Finland, many businessmen have begun to adopt the American concept of time – time is money. This is quite strange for the Russian concept of time. Although he doesn’t seem very academic, the Russian businessman is very aware of how Russia rose from the Novgorod days to become a superpower. Russian time does not go straight; it is rather a process of quantum leaps and small circles with no clear line connecting the circles. So this concept of long time permeates all the actions of the Russian businessman. Losing your temper when things don’t move quickly shows signs of immaturity.

Relationships – “Blat

There is no significant step in Russia without “Blat” or connections. People remember and count on favors like currency. We place great emphasis on building and maintaining personal cordial relationships through respect, gifts, favors and counter-favours.

Faith in your own system

The neighboring Finns and Swedes believe that the Finnish or Swedish version of the democratic welfare state is the greatest achievement of the human mind and are very proud of it. Russians take a messianic approach to being Russian. For them, this is the embodiment of the dream of perfection: nature, the world, man, man’s life, the dream of the golden age, the heavenly city – modern Rome. They believe that humanity will always move forward only when divine light illuminates the way. Until the fall of communism, this messianic mission was rarely doubted. The current state of Russia, with high prices, insecurity, terrorist attacks and the failure of post-communist capitalism to bring heaven to earth, has seen the Russian mindset move towards “Learn and embrace all that is Western!” while never forgetting “Mother Russia knows best”. The fact that people complain about the way things are now does not detract from this basic messianic belief. The following joke highlights this belief.

“A Russian and an American die and both go to hell. Satan, the manager of hell, asks them:Which the hell does he like better, Russian or American??” “What is the difference?asks the Russian.In American hell, you will be forced to eat a bucket of garbage every day; in Russian there are two” – explains Satan. The American decides that the American will go to hell. Being a Russian patriot, he chooses Russian hell. A year later, the two men run into each other.”How is lifeasks the Russian.I can’t complainthe American answers.I eat a bucket of junk every morning and then I’m free for the rest of the day. What about you?” “It couldn’t be better– explains the Russian.Just like on earth! Either they are late with the waste delivery or they are short of buckets.”

Flamboyant consumption

American economist Torstein Veblen first coined this term in “Theory of the leisure classVeblen argued that economic life is not driven by the concept of utility, but by social traces from prehistoric times, and that much of today’s society is only a variation of early tribal life. This tribal nature of Russian life is very central to understanding the stratification of Russian society. Brands and visible symbols of success are the number one priority. Here is a good joke that is very descriptive of the NRs obsession Nouveau Riches.

After a car accident, a NR is lying on the side of the road crying loudly. Oh, my BMW! – Crying Oh, my BMW! A passer-by is shocked to hear it and asks:How can you cry about your car when you just lost your whole hand?“NR assesses the situation and continues to shout: Oh, my Rolex!

With Russians, you cannot separate culture from business. The acquisition of cultural know-how and learning the rules of behavior are essential for success. It takes time to gain the trust and respect of Russians. Yes Yes)! If you get them, they can be good and fun business partners.

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