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Business in Russia: Keys to Success.


How to make business with the Russians and What one should wait from it?

There are many books about business etiquette in China, but in case with Russia, we have a rather few information concerning this question. In order to change this situation, the President of the International Center of Wine and Gastronomy, the Vice-President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia and the member of the Expert Board of UNWTO Gastronomy Network, Mr. Leonid Gelibterman arrived in Madrid at the invitation of the Russian Business & Social Club, where he hold the seminar on the difference in the Russian and Spanish mentalities and about business etiquette in Russia. Mr.Gelibterman also gave some advices on how to run a successful business with the Russians. During the presentation the speaker noted that in autumn it is planned to organize the second Russian gastronomy week in Madrid and Barcelona. Leonid Gelibterman also focused on two points, which most often encountered by foreigners in Russia: business lunch and dinner at home.

One of the most important rules dealing with these two situations is a will to let a guest first of all taste food and drinks and only then talk about business.

Business lunch

"If you come to Russia on official business visit, then at a meeting with the local authorities you will be served with bread and salt by Russian women in national costumes. This is a very old tradition,"- says Leonid. "At first you have to take a piece of bread, then dipped it in salt and eat with grateful thanks to the hosts.”

There are, of course, other scenarios of business lunches in Russia, they are as following:

1. Delegations are introduced to each other. The most influential businessman will sit in the center of the table, on the left side - translator. The Spanish delegation should sit in the same manner.

2. During the meal participants of the meeting usually talk about common things. For example, they talk about the culture and traditions of one of the two countries. It is likely that business issues will be raised later.

3. The representatives of delegations will be offered not only soft drinks matching to the food but also wine and vodka. It is necessary to propose a toast and to clink glasses with the guests sitting at the table. Toasting tradition came from the Caucasus, and still it has played a huge role in the Russian dinners. Speaking toast, people usually express an idea, a thought, their own opinions, and there are ready-made phrases, proverbs. Man speaking toast, usually stands up and before drinking, clink his glass with all people glasses at the table. It is considered impolite not to drink when somebody offers a toast. "You can, for example, drink for the visited region and for its development", - says Leonid.

4. During the main course topics related to business can be raised, but usually it is common not to speak about business while eating”.

Leonid Gelibterman remarked that business etiquette in Russia relays on emotions in decision making and most of all on trust relations between partners.

Dinner at home

If you are invited to the home of a Russian, check the following details and be ready:

  1. It is advisable to bring a small gift for the owners of the house and present those gifts entering the room. For women you can bring flowers, the symbol of politeness. “In Russia a man should be a gentleman and pay his respect to women not only in business case but also in case of person respect. This suggests good breeding.”
  2. Entering the house, you must take off your shoes.
  3. Be ready to the fact that there will be a lot of food, but do not give up.
  4. It is necessary to toast at the table.
  5. It is possible that during or after a meal guests will be asked to sing popular Russian songs.

In conclusion we should note that the keys to success negotiations within business lunch or home dinner are the following: openness and interest to the language, culture and traditions, as well as setting of trust relations between involved participants. And do not forget to toast!

Publication “Negociaciones en Rusia: claves del éxito” at the site El Pais (Madrid, Spain), the international project “Russia Beyond The Headlines” –


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