Posts tagged with communicating in russia

Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos: A Touch of Grace

Posted on January 18, 2015 by Leave a comment

To touch or not to touch?

How about a touch of grace!

Touch of Grace-Kate -Labron JamesCultural etiquette, politeness, and good manners are passed down through societies from generation to generation. Etiquette refers to the cultural guidelines for what is appropriate or inappropriate and polite or impolite. It gives a culture structure, integrity, grace, and finesse—all of which are uniquely adapted from one culture to another. Fortunately, simple business and social etiquette are often based on basic common sense. Although etiquette styles and fads may come and go, the fundamentals of global etiquette remain essentially the same.Often I’m asked about cultural ‘faux pas’, especially as they relate to gestures and touching someone in a way that breaks cultural protocol. This unintentional breach of protocol happens frequently, and will continue to happen, however the real etiquette come into play when the breach is handled with such grace and dignity that the breach dissolves unnoticed! Two examples of this come to mind.

Recently when Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, were presented with a Cleveland Cavaliers T-shirt for Prince George by LaBron James, LaBron put his arm around Kate’s shoulder for the photo, unaware that touching the royal family has been known to break the accepted protocol. Neither Prince William nor Kate showed any sign of being uncomfortable with LaBron’s gesture, showing instead dignity and a touch a grace.

Another similar situation happened in March 2012 when President Obama and the First Lady meet Queen Elizabeth in England. In this case, the Queen first extended her arm to touch Michelle Obama’s back, at which point Mrs. Obama responded in like creating an embrace between the two. The British media was abuzz with this show of affection by the Queen who had not publically displayed this sort of affection in 57 years! From the perspective of “rapport”, perhaps the Queen was welcoming Mrs. Obama in the manner more typically comfortable for the U.S. than England. Traditionally, the protocol would be to follow the customs of etiquette for the country you are in, however Queen Elizabeth and the First lady showed that doing things differently can be just fine!

A touch of grace happens when we let go of traditional cultural expectations and connect on the level of the culture we have in common – the ‘Human Culture’. As we begin 2015, perhaps we can focus more on what we have in common rather than on our differences. The following 7 tips will help us do just that!

§  Be respectful: Respect is a universal language!

§  Show you care: Learn what’s important to the cultures you visit or work with

§  Strike a balance: Find the comfortable middle ground between cultures. No one expects you to be just like them!

§  Know your geography: There is nothing more embarrassing than not knowing the location of a country and its neighbors!

§  Mind your manners: Learn what is considered polite and impolite for the countries you visit

§  Learn how to greet: Greetings are as diverse as the cultures themselves. There are handshakes, kisses, hugs, and bows, and they come in all different sizes!

§  Show a touch of grace: Differences are the spice of life! When it comes to cultural etiquette, no one expects perfection. Enjoy yourself, and it’s highly likely your counterparts will do the same!

To learn more about the Dos and Taboos for different cultures, and the communication styles of Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book

 Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success

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Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book, SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a distinguished Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need conference speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, or professional keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural communication training and cross-cultural training programs. She is a leader in the industry of professional motivational speakers and professional public speakers. Known for her cross-cultural communication books and intercultural training, she is among the best of female keynote speakers, women motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is a cross-cultural speaker and expert on social business etiquette. Gayle travels worldwide, entertaining, educating, and inspiring audiences with her fresh and unique style, and is sure to please any audience with her charm, wit, and humor!

Circles Of Excellence provides Corporate Training, Executive Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers for companies of all sizes and in all industries, including over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Contact us about our customized programs for Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communications, Customer Service, Diversity, Leadership & Management, Presentation Skills, Sales & Negotiations, Stress Management, Team Building, and Time Management.



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Gayle Cotton’s Bestselling Book is a ‘Featured Sales Guide’ on Amazon!

Posted on November 20, 2013 by Leave a comment

Book-WSJ 3DATTENTION SALESPEOPLE & NEGOTIATORS! Gayle Cotton’s bestselling book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!’ is a ‘Featured Sales Guide’ on Amazon.

If you sell or negotiate internationally, this book is a “Must Read”

It’s a perfect holiday gift for a friend, colleague, or yourself!

Buy it now on Amazon at the following link: ‘Featured Sales Guide: SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!’

“This is a perfect cross-cultural communication tool for anyone who does business globally. Gayle uses interesting and amusing examples to illustrate the hows and whys of effectively sharing messages with someone from another culture. Her naturally friendly writing style addresses delicate issues in a graceful way. Read this book and you’ll be ready to Say Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!”

– Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Great Leaders Grow

“This is an excellent guide to being more effective and comfortable with different people from different cultures – essential for anyone who travels to other countries.”

– Brian Tracy, Author – The 10 Disciplines of Exceptional Leadership

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Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos: Communication Guidelines for RUSSIA

Posted on November 11, 2013 by Leave a comment

The Latest! Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos – A Series of Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z: RUSSIA Russia


Addresses in Russia are written in the following order: (1) country (2) city (3) street address and (4) the last name of the individual.

Handshaking is common and is typically a firm grip with several quick pumps between two men. Between men and women, or two women, the handshake is usually softer. It’s appropriate for men to wait until a woman extends her hand before reaching for it. Between women, the older woman extends her hand first.

Relatives and good friends may engage in an animated embrace and kiss each other on the cheeks when greeting.

When a Russian touches another person during a greeting or conversation, it is usually a sign of confidence and rapport.

Generally speaking, Russians are more comfortable with third-party introductions, so it’s best to wait a moment before introducing yourself to a new group. If, after a few minutes, no introduction is made you may then take the initiative.

Eye contact during the introduction is very important and should be maintained as long as the individual is addressing you.

Visitors should speak in a calm moderate tone of voice since speaking or laughing loudly in public is frowned upon.

Personal questions are best avoided, although you may be subject to these inquiries. Answer these questions as best as you are willing to since your Russian companions may press you for details.

There is tremendous affection for children in Russia. If you are a parent, showing photographs of your children can be an effective way of building rapport.

In conversation, it is helpful to discuss your aspirations and hopes for the future. Sometimes, Russians are far more interested in the personal side of your character than your business agenda.

Allow plenty of time for each appointment. Not only may appointments start late, they may last longer than originally planned.

The Russian business culture has a deeply entrenched hierarchy. Superiors have authority over their subordinates, and are ultimately responsible for the final

It’s essential that you deal with the key decision-makers, rather than the go-betweens who are often sent to meet with new visitors. It’s wise to plan ahead and make the right contacts well in advance of your trip.

When decision-makers are present, meetings can be a time for all participants to exchange information and ideas.

Ensure that you have a contact outside of the negotiations who is an expert in Russian law, which is constantly subject to change in both interpretation and application.

The first meeting is usually more of a formality, a time for the Russians to assess the credibility of you and your company. The best strategy is to appear very firm and dignified, while maintaining an air of warmth and approachability.

It’s essential that your business team display a “united front” when negotiating with the Russians. A good way to start is by ensuring that all members of your team understand and agree on precisely what they want to achieve from the deal.

While strong empirical evidence and other factual data are important in any presentation, making a trustworthy impression is an important priority with Russians.

Extend compliments with caution, since they may cause Russians to feel a sense of misplaced obligation. Praising and rewarding anyone in public may be viewed with suspicion.

Your Russian counterparts may insist that they understand something while this may not actually be the case. They also sometimes have a tendency to say things they think you want to hear.

The Russian word “nyekulturny” is a popular term used to refer to anything considered uncultured, bad mannered, or otherwise socially unacceptable. The taboos below are a few examples of some behaviors regarded as “nyekulturny.”

5 Key Conversation or Gesture Tips

  • The rapid, progressive changes taking place in Russia
  • Culture, theatre, movies, music, and literature
  • Travel, history, and architecture
  • There is always an interest in current events as long as you remain open to various perspectives
  • The food and drink that is unmistakably a part of Russian entertainment

5 Key Conversation or Gesture Taboos

  • Wearing your coat inside office buildings or public places. Coatrooms are usually available and should be used.
  • Standing with your hands in your pockets
  • Sitting with the legs apart, or with one ankle resting upon the knee
  • Comparing Russia to other developing countries, or comparing Moscow and Saint Petersburg
  • Beckoning someone with the forefinger. Instead, turn your hand so that the palm faces down and make a scratching motion. Many common gestures used in the West, such as the “OK” sign, are considered rude in Russia.

Bon Voyage!

Join us in the future for SAUDI ARABIA!




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Contact Circles Of Excellence for your company’s Corporate Training, Executive Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers. We work with companies of all sizes and industries, including 50 Fortune 500 companies. Our topics include Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communications, Customer Service, Diversity, Leadership & Management, Presentation Skills, Sales & Negotiations, Stress Management, Team Building and Time Management. Contact EMMY AWARD WINNER, Gayle Cotton for your next meeting or conference to help your business become more successful in today’s global business environment. Gayle is the author of the bestselling book SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communications’ and President of Circles Of Excellence for Corporate Training & Executive Coaching. Her vast experience living and working abroad will entertain and inspire audiences of any size with her fresh, unique and humorous approach to Cross-Cultural Communications and social business etiquette! Gayle travels worldwide from business bases in Texas and Switzerland as a distinguished professional keynote speaker.

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