Etiquette Russia – Part I

Since it was a New Year for Russians yesterday (Happy New Year), I figured this week I would share with you the country’s etiquette and manners.  

Besides having the most billionaires in Europe, Russians are prideful people.  

Here’s all you need to know about Russian etiquette. 

Photo credit:


A very firm handshake along with eye contact is appropriate, man to man.  Men do not typically shake a woman’s hand.   You may see Russian women kissing each others’ cheeks and Russian men embracing each other, and a combination of both. This only happens when they are familiar. Do not shake hands over a threshold; this is considered to bring bad luck in Russia.

Don’t smile, or expect a smile back 

Russians will think you just came out of an insane asylum, stupid, or you are crazy. Russians can seem like cold individuals, but that’s only on the surface. Friendship and trust are not givens, and directness will get you further than a polite, stiff grin. I have a couple of Russian girlfriends who are the most loyal and sweetest ladies on earth.  

Pack your designer clothes and look sharp 

I am told that ladies go grocery shopping in heels with full-on makeup and hair done. Footwear should be resilient enough for chaotic city streets. Some people carry a sponge in their purse to resolve heel issues. Pack a pair of kitten heels. Russian men’s shoes are always polished and on point.  

Do not overuse excuse me, or thank you 

Russians don’t stand on ceremony. Thank your waitress once, or she will give you an impatient look. I grew up in Los Angeles in a Russian community. The first word I learned in Russian was ‘What” because that was what people said to each other all the time. They would never say, ‘Pardon me.’ 

Do not panic if you get stopped by a cop 

The police are shady, they habitually ask people on the street for their documents. They want to hustle you for money. It’s not unheard of—especially if you’re obviously a tourist. Just say something along the lines of, “Can something be worked out?” You’ll soon be on your way, for less than you think.

Personal Space 

Russian people tend to stand closer to each other during a conversation than people in Western countries. This does not mean you should be an inch away from their face, but it means that the polite distance is a bit shorter in Russia than what you’re probably used to. Stand a bit closer than you usually would if you’re talking to a Russian person and want to appear personable; otherwise, you may come across as cold or uninterested.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part II.

Sending warm vibes! 💋

Featured photo credit: Vogue Australia 


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