1. Take off your shoes when you go into someone’s house.
Usually, Russian apartments are carpeted. Often these are expensive Persian carpets with intricate patterns that are not as easy to clean as the usual American carpeting. In addition, Russians walk a lot on the dusty streets and do not just jump into the house immediately from the car.
For these reasons, as well as the centuries-old tradition, Russians take off their shoes when entering the dwelling. Hosts usually wear slippers. Usually women going to a party they take with them a pair of good shoes to wear them indoors. Of course, if you do not take off your shoes probably no one will say anything. But can be the only one person sitting at the table with shoes on. It may be rude from your side.
2. Always help women to carry weights.
Lovers of political correctness can irritate this rule, but Russians believe that men are physically stronger than women. Therefore, you will appear impolite if you just stand and watch how woman carries something heavy.
3. Be polite to the elderly people in public transport.
When Russians come to America and travel by public transport, they are surprised that young people are sitting while elderly people are standing side by side. In America consider it as a possibility to offend an elderly person by offering to sit down. Meanwhile in Russia, if you do not offer place to an elderly person or a pregnant woman, the whole bus will look at you as a criminal. Women, even young, are also often offered a place in public transport. But this is optional. However, you have to rise and offer a place to the elderly people.
4. Always use formal language and be polite.
Russians have formal and informal form of language. You may already know that English personal pronoun “you” in Russian language is different.
Personal pronoun “ты” – is informal “you”. It’s used for friends and well-known people.
Personal pronoun “вы” – is formal “you”. It’s used for unknown people and people that much older than you are or having higher status at work.
The reason why we tell you about formal and informal forms of the language is because sentences can be changed dramatically. The suggestion is to use mostly formal form of the language with Russians instead of informal.
But when you know very well people you speak with and they are ok to speak in informal way then it is absolutely normal. Usually we ask a permission to change the conversation into informal form.
5. Shaking hands with no gloves when you meet someone.
Russians usually don’t mind to shake hands showing by that their politeness and trust. It’s absolutely normal for majority of the world population. But they obsessed with cleanliness. So in the wintertime when you are going to take someone’s hand, even if it’s negative 40 outside (which is quite often in Russian winters), they won’t shake your hand with their gloves on. They would take off the gloves and then shake your hand and then put their hands back into the gloves. Because Russian think it’s rude to shake hands with gloves. They consider gloves are dirty. Your gloves have been touching everything –clothes, car handle etc. But hands are clean. If their hands are dirty then instead of shaking hands with you they would touch your elbow or your forearm.
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