April 22nd, 2015

Russian Business Etiquette

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It seems people, and even corporations, sometimes feed into and perpetrate stereotypes about their own country. Last week, this cute little invitation from a prestigious Russian law firm arrived at my desk. It's an offer to attend their fancy reception at the annual gathering for trademark attorneys throughout the globe. This year, the conference is held in beautiful San Diego. I like this invitation a lot, it made me smile on a crappy work day. However, I'm confused. Is the person with the fuzzy boots a man or woman? The image is very androgynous. :) In some ways, the invitation feeds into many stereotypes about Russia - remote village, fences and frozen looking Siberians. But everything is neat, tidy and cozy!

You will recall that last year, one of the attorneys from this Russian law firm visited me in Washington, DC and I made a major language faux pas when I greeted her with "Привет,
Очень приятно." I wrote a post about it here. What is proper Russian business etiquette? Are meetings and business relations typically formal? In the U.S., even in my work as a lawyer, we often engage in casual greetings in meetings. The atmosphere is relaxed, not serious in tone or appearance. I almost never wear a business suit, instead dressing in black pants and nice tops and sweaters. On Fridays, most lawyers wear jeans to the office. I remember in all my business dealings that the Japanese are the most formal, and perhaps Russia falls somewhere in between. Please give me advice for dealing with these Russian lawyers! Btw, here's what we will do at the reception...Collapse )