Cultural Differences Between Americans & Russians
Cultural differences can help describe the differences between two groups by comparing these groups as a whole. Both of these countries are multi-ethnic, great powers, whom have a variety of diverse groups in their societies. Both groups are known for great hospitality and appreciate casual, direct, and a blunt way of speaking. Moreover, cultural differences are of importance to discuss when doing business in Russia or just communicating between the two groups. One can learn to speak a language, but until you know and understand the culture you will never truly be fluent in that language. Cultural differences should never be underestimated due to their importance.
In Russia, personal space is not an option; your space is their space. Americans prefer more personal space than Russians do. In America when friends or family greet they shake hands or give a short hug and immediately step aside to have some distance for conversation(normally 3-4 feet). In Russia, people are comfortable talking right on top of each other with very little (maybe 1-2 feet) personal space between them(Natalia Kozyakova, 2014). Americans are very uncomfortable with “close talkers” so they start to back away. Russian people do not like to much personal space and would rather speak sitting or walking quite close to each other. As conversation proceeds, they tend to come closer and closer. I have a friend, whom is Italian, and I consider him a close talker and always catch myself stepping back during conversation until he has me cornered and I have nowhere else to go. Moreover, in Russia it is considered rude and unfriendly to keep a large distance during the conversation while in America it is preferred.
Like most cultures, it is important to have trust and a mutual relationship. It is imperative for the Russian culture to be able to trust one another and keep that trust. Russians have to believe that someone is good and honest before having a concert relationship. Americans become friends first and build trust later if at all. American’s friend and befriend people suddenly and occasionally. In some situations, Americans may seem open up at first, but in reality it can take time to earn their complete trust. Americans make friends and become relatively close in no time at all, but it is easy for them to disappear in an instance from one anothers life. Russians believe in building friendships and staying connected after the trust is built. Lastly, during communication repeating one’s self to a Russian will make you appear untrustworthy. A big mistake in the Russian culture is to repeat the words “I’m sorry” or “thank you”(Deborsi, 2012). Moveover, it is important to apologize once and not repeat.
Dating in America is normally casual and laid back mostly in pubic settings having a common conversation. Typically two individuals go to dinner or a movie or possibly both. Americans typically meet someone in a bar or nowadays online and throw themselves into dating; if it doesn’t work then they just move on. They date many partners in very little time and don’t think anything of it. Casual dating is a lot less common in Russia. Russians date to find a significant other and get married. In Russia, you will see two people on a date wearing a formal dress and suit instead of jeans and t-shirts (No Author, 2014). Russian women and men go to bars, coffee shops and restaurants to find potential dates and hope is to turn a casual encounter into marriage. Furthermore, Russian men are expected to pay for all of a woman’s expenses when they are on a date” (Deborsi, 2012). If the gentlemen, does not pay the female can take this offensively and move on.
Russian business culture retains many of the characteristics instilled during the Soviet era, most noticeably an autocratic management style (Ellie Williams, 2014). The autocratic style is not president in American business culture too often. This form of leadership enables managers to make decisions unilaterally. Russian employees don’t inquire about the consent; they do whatever they feel is necessary in order to achieve goals. America’s are expected to follow management’s direction even though employees often ask questions about their duties and often collaborate with supervisors. Language translation problems can occur; one word will convey an idea or meaning while Russians will have several words to choose from, each having a slightly different meaning. Lastly, many Russians don’t conduct business on the phone due to the phone system being poor. While American business is conducted over the phone, email, letter or fax. Russian prefers to hear and discuss directly from people they trust, face-to-face.
In Russia, people are a little more formal and reserved, more serious, and casual behavior is considered a sign of disrespect. In the United States, American culture is slightly less formal and open, with society interacting casually and frequently debating and discussing personal and non-personal issues. Russian people, value personal relationships and trust, and tend to be suspicious of strangers. As a result, they usually stick to people who know each other well. Whether or not one is going to have a personal or business relationship with someone from Russian, it is very helpful and respectful to get to know how their cultural expects another to act.
Deborski, (2012) Cultural Differences between Americans and Russians. Accessed: November 14, 2014. http://masterrussian.net/f13/cultural-differences-between-americans-russians-19683/
Ellie Williams, (2014) What Is the Difference between American & Russian Cultures in Business?. Accessed: November 14, 2014. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-americans-russians-cultures-business-56041.html
Natalia Kozyakova, (2014) Differences between my Culture and the US with Regard to Nonverbal Behavior. Accessed: November 14, 2014.Http://smcgsp.blogspot.com/2009/03/about-me.html
No Author, (2014) Comparing Russian and American Dating Style. Accessed: November 14, 2014. http://www.rosebrides.com/russian-and-american-dating-styles.html