Help your boss prepare to do business in Russia

Russische Großunternehmen haben sich in vielen Aspekten den internationalen Standards angepasst. Doch bei kleinen und mittleren Unternehmen spielt die einheimische Tradition immer noch eine große Rolle.

Mit den Tipps aus Secretary Today - Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen helfen Sie Ihrem Chef, sich gut auf seine Reise vorbereitet.

Meeting and greeting

The typical greeting is a firm handshake and the right greeting for the time of day -

  • dobraye utra (good morning),
  • dobryy den (good afternoon) or
  • dobryy vecher (good evening).

It is normal to introduce yourself with your surname only. Find out if your boss´s Russian  counterpart has any titles and instruct your boss to use them.

Russians usually have three names. The first name is a given name; the last name is the father´s family name. The middle name is a socalled patronymic, which is a version of the father´s first name. For a man, the patronymic ends with ´vich´ or ´ovich´, meaning ´son of´. For a woman, the suffixes are ´a´ or ´ova´, which means ´daughter of´.

For example:Peter Alexandrovich Bogdanov and Maria Iwanova Lozlov.

Your boss may be invited to address a person by their first name and the patronymic once they have got better acquainted with each other. This form of address is common in smaller companies. In international companies people are addressed with ´gaspodin´ (a courtesy title similar to Mr) or ´gaspazhah´, (similar to Mrs or Ms) and their surname.

In more traditional companies, hand-shaking is reserved for men. So warn your male boss not to offer his hand to a woman but to wait for her to make the first move. If a woman offers her hand, Russian men will either shake or kiss it. The usual way to greet a woman is with a slight nod of the head.

What to wear

In Russia, the quality and price of your clothes reflects your position in society, power and wealth. If your boss is male, he will need to wear a suit and tie in light blue, grey or brown. Dark colours and a white shirt are reserved for special occasions. If your boss is a woman, she should wear a smart skirt or tailored trousers and a long-sleeved blouse and jacket.

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Meeting and negotiating

First meetings are usually seen as a formality and to assess people´s credibility. Negotiations can be tough. If the main aim is to gain concessions, your boss should not give in too soon as this is seen as a sign of weakness. If he or she does need to concede, the gesture should be reciprocated in some way. And tell your boss not to be surprised if the Russian counterparts lose their temper, threaten to end the deal or even walk out. It´s all part of the show.

When you prepare your boss´s presentation, keep it simple and straightforward. Don´t use flashy Power-Point slides. In Russia, knowledge, professionalism and expertise are more important than a fancy performance.


Your boss should not be surprised if people come late to appointments and if letters are not answered at once. But coming from Germany, he or she will be expected to demonstrate punctuality.