“Your first 50 right steps to enter the Russian food market”.
Step № 11 – “Russian mentality. Do not even try to understand”
You must be born in Russia to understand the Russian mentality is. It is hard to understand for a foreigner, sometimes it is not even possible. However, if you do business in Russia, you need to know the main features of the Russian mentality in order to understand your Russian partners or Russian employees. For example, you can say “hello” in Russia and offend a person, or you can keep silent and not say “hello” and, again, offend a person. Very few people know these subtle points, but you are reading my book to know them and not to make mistakes in the Russian food market.
It will be the only step with a text not adapted for the perception and reading in English, as is has been done with the other 49 steps. It is written in the same style as I would say in the Russian language in Russia.
In this step I will try to comment on the most frequent features of the Russian mentality which are equally inherent in Russian men and women.
1. Common is above personal.
Such phrase as “we all are a family”, “everything is common” and “what will people say?” are very frequent in Russia.
Russians do not have the concept of privacy. For example, any person on the street can interfere and tell you everything he/she thinks about your clothes, manners and upbringing of your children. They will also tell you that a lace on your shoe has got untied, your pants are spattered or your bag with food products is broken. They will blink the headlight of their car on the road to warn about a police patrol on the road and to save you from fines.
2. When choosing sense and sensibility, Russians choose sensibility.
It’s hard for an average Russian to imagine that you can act rationally and consciously not only for yourself, but also for someone, therefore unselfish actions are associated with actions “from the heart”, based on feelings, without a head.
Russian dislike discipline and methodical behavior. Within a short period of time their mental state can easily change from peace, forgiveness and humility to a merciless rebellion and complete destruction, and vice versa.
The Russian mentality exists according to the female model: feelings, softness, forgiveness, reacting with crying and anger on consequences of such a life strategy. But this is such a mentality.
3. Certain permanent negativism.
Most Russians often see flaws, but not merits in themselves. On the streets of Russia, it is not customary to smile for no reason, look into faces of people around you, it is indecent to meet and just talk to strangers.
4. A smile in Russian communication is not an obligatory attribute of politeness.
In the West, the more a person smiles, the more polite he/she is. In traditional Russian communication, the main requirement is sincerity and truth.
For Russians a smile only shows an empathy towards another person, which, naturally, does not apply to everyone. Therefore, if a person smile, but this smile is “not for the heart”, it causes rejection.
A person with a constantly good mood is suspicious – either mentally ill or insincere. The one who usually smiles in a friendly way to others is either a foreigner or a sycophant. His/her smile is of course insincere. People do not like it.
5. Love to disputes.
In Russian communication, traditionally a large place is occupied by disputes. A Russian person likes to argue on various issues, both private and public. The love for disputes on global and philosophical questions is a vivid feature of Russian communication behavior.
For a Russian person, a dispute is not as a means of finding the truth, but it is a mental exercise, a form of emotional and sincere communication with others. That is why in Russian communicative culture, disputants so often lose the thread of the dispute and easily move away from the original topic. At the same time, the desire to compromise or to give the other person a chance to save a face is completely unusual. It is this kind of dispute that is a foundation of all informal Russian conversations on any issues.
6. Russian people live by faith in good.
This good will one day come down from the heaven to the long-suffering Russian land: “Good will surely triumph over evil. If not now, then later.”
7. The principle of “keeping quiet”.
In Russian mentality, there is a scornful attitude towards politics and democracy as a form of political structure, which assumes that people are the source and controller of the government activity.
There is a belief that people do not really decide anything anywhere, and democracy is a lie and a hypocrisy. Only in the 19th century Russia witnessed three forms of a state system – at the beginning of the century there was a royal monarchy, in the middle – communism, at the end of the century – democracy. Many Russian people lived in two of these forms of a state system. Therefore, Russians have enough experience to compare and not to trust.
8. There is a belief that everyone steals everywhere and everything, and it is impossible to earn big money in an honest way.
A very common phrase is “if you do not steal, you will not survive”. At the same time, Russians are characterized by a negative attitude towards punishments: punishing minor violations is not good, you need to “forgive”.
9. A logical continuation of the previous paragraph is the next characteristic feature of the Russian mentality – love to freebies. A new film or book needs to be downloaded via a free torrent, paying for licensed programs is stupid.
Of course, in recent years, the state has been trying to introduce penalties for such actions, but so far everything can be found on the Russian Internet for free, which all Russians continue to use.
10. Taking care of one’s health is not a value.
However, it is absolutely not allowed to leave alone people in need, the sick or the helpless. It is also considered morally unacceptable to leave those who have not cared about their health and as a result have become helpless disabled individuals.
11. Humanism in the Russian language is “pity”.
If humanism welcomes caring for a person who is free, developed, and strong, then a pity directs care to the unfortunate and the sick. Russians feel more sorry for animals than people. It is more likely that a Russian will feed a stray cat or dog than help a beggar.
In the end, I want to cite a part of an interview with a Frenchman which I read in Russian media. This Frenchman decided to hitchhike all over Russia from France to Vladivostok (this is the easternmost mainland part of Russia, about 10,000 km away from Moscow) and stay for a while in different cities because he wanted to look at Russia from the inside.
When he was asked, “So, how is your trip?”, he replied, “It turned out that everything that is written about you on the Internet is not true! It’s a pity, I wanted to see bears and fur hats. When I came to each city, I had no plan, no ready route which tells what to do and where to go. People who were ready to give me shelter and show me places appeared themselves. Having been to a dozen of cities, I have realized that I have not understood anything. Now I know only one thing – Russia is a cool country! ”
Therefore, do not try to understand the Russian mentality, just know for sure that if a foreigner gets into trouble in Russia, he/she will always be helped completely altruistically .
Business Adviser in the Russian Food Industry
Please read the same my other steps:Backward