Tag Archives: culture

The smiling habit

I know, I know that many Europeans and especially Americans consider Russian people quite morose. We do believe that you may smile when you want to and not when it is comfortable to others. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time in Europe and got used to the “professional smiling”. But that one shocked me for real.

That was a Russian guy who moved to Europe about 10 years ago. He had a nice job, a nice face and nice clothes. The problem was..he was smiling. All the time. I saw his brand white teeth through the whole conversation. He was smiling while I was asking a question. He was smiling while answering my question and after he would answer my question.

Did he do an operation? Does he have any problems with the muscles of his mouth? Is something wrong with my makeup?

-Ivan, did you study in the US?

-Yeah, I did!

-Now I get it..

Dear all, the gestures and the facial expressions are sometimes even more important than knowing the language of the person. Try to pay attention to how people look like when they are interacting and to do it the same way – this will help your international career a lot.

Sincerely yours,

Russianladyabroad

International work in an international world. Part II: surviving as a foreigner in an international company.

If you are new in a company, many things can go wrong. Adapting yourself in an international company in another country may be easier than fighting with the language barrier in a small local SME, but still a challenge. If you found yourself away from home in an international giant, here are some basic tips:

  • Manage to eat: Eat with everybody what they all eat, where they all eat, when they all eat. Eating is one of the most ancient ways of getting closer to people. Your tasks are not your first priority – you REALLY should eat the way your colleagues do.
  • Manage to participate: Meetings are a necessity for your job, but clubs are the necessity to keep your job. If your colleagues do anything in their spare time, be it yoga, evening cocktails or even sailing, do yourself a favour and participate. The social game is the next most important ancient way of becoming a part of a group.
  • Manage to talk: Personally, I feel like an idiot when people are discussing football. I have neither love nor interest for football. I will be by no means able to support a conversation on this topic – but surely can ask 1-2 questions to be polite and show my respect to the interests of my colleagues.
  • Manage to avoid: Topics related to politics, critics of behaviours and cultures, personal life details, religion, talking about other colleagues. Many people know that those topics are taboo, but I still hear them every week.
  • Manage to observe: How people are interacting with each other. How are they reacting, responding, working, greeting others and asking about favours. It might be very different from what you are used to.
  • Manage to explain: Feel free to explain, why you do things differently. Feel free to tell that you don’t eat pork or should wear a head scarf all the time. Every normal international company should show acceptance to the basics.

Work in India: hard challenges with a chilling fleur. Doing business as a woman in India

India is a very patriarchal country. On the other hand, when we visited the Amer Fort in Jaipur, one showed us a small window in the main wall, which opened a view directly to the square where the political meetings of the men took place many centuries ago:

DSC03695

(The small window is above the central entrance on the “balcony”)

One was able to clearly hear and see everything from that window – and there was also a kitchen on the left just next to it. As you have already guessed, the window was for the main wife, who was supposed to watch and listen to the meetings. If at some point she would decide that her husband was under too much pressure or was going to take a wrong decision, she could ring a bell, and her husband would take a small breake come to have a council with her. At least, this is what I was told 😉

I have a very special respect to Indian women who went to politics. Even in restaurants of western hotel chains my BF was asked, what I would like to eat – not me. In general, people did not addressed – and it was strange, even though I come from a patriarchal country as well. In the culture where the man is the ruler, it is hard for women to fight their way up. However, when I see modern Indian enterprises, there are women climbing the career stairs, creating start-ups and becoming active in social entrepreneurship. When I compare the business landscapes, I remember Turkey, the country of amazing beaches and luxurious spa hotels. Indeed, when the father was about to die and the land was distributed between the children, women would receive the “least attractive lands” – next to the sea, with no woods and no fields. Who is ruling the touristic field now? India, as well, has a lot of potential, but still need to find the niche for the female leadership.

Business dinner in Europe

As I told you before, dining culture is extremely important, if you wish to progress in your career in Europe. Unlike casual lunches with colleagues, described in the previous article, dinners might be more of a problem.

In France, the main problem for me was that all the waiters wanted to speak only French, even though they were perfectly able to speak English. Just because they love their native language. One might look strange, showing with his hands that he would like to have a dish with a swimming fish during a business dinner.

In Spain and Italy, I had difficulties to hear my colleagues, because many good restaurants are very loud.

In Netherlands, I had to go for some business breakfast to a cafe next to the trade fair building. Honestly saying, I was ready to cry while paying for my simple “bio” croissant with ham and a small cup of coffee. It was the most precious croissant in my life..

In Germany, you can eat well for a small price or eat so-so for a very high price. It depends. In Hamburg, for instance, one can find 11 Michelin restaurants, and some more, which had a Michelin star before and still have a good kitchen (but much lower prices). As in Germany, some professions require having dinners and lunches with your clients, many companies pay the bills back to their employees if they invited an important client to a dinner – therefore, feel free to accept an invitation from your German business partners.

If you are looking for a very special place to eat with your clients or partners, I would opt for this website:

https://www.viamichelin.de/web/Suchen_Restaurants/

Is will not only show you the Michelin restaurants with a very special kitchen (a good place for a very special date, a proposal, a crucial contract-related business meeting), but also very good restaurants with the approximate price ranges for a meal.

As food is a brilliant opportunity to unite with people and progress in business, I wish you to find just the right place for your occasion.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

 

 

Why confident talented Russians get fired in Europe

When working on this article, I thought I would write a list of reasons, why talented Russians (and guys from CIS-countries with the similar mentality) get fired in Europe already during the probation period.

Let’s take Germany, a usual job not involving IT or scientific research, where people will forgive you whatsoever if you do the job. The main reason why Russians get fired is that we are UNSOCIAL. Unsocial according to the European standards.

If you are Russian, you know for sure, how our satirist Zadornov made everybody laugh by telling, how people smile 24/7 in the US. If you work in Europe at a position where you see people at least twice a day – congrats, smiling is the easiest thing you are going to need. Here is my personal list, why you may be considered unsocial (and therefore get a label “you are not good for the team spirit” and get fired) while working, for instance, in Germany:

  1. You don’t spend the dinner with your colleagues. You just wanted to go shopping during the lunch break to have some minutes off from talking? Forget it. In Germany, people expect you to eat with them every damn time they want to eat together. Because you all are a team! The worst is, even if they eat somewhere very expensive and not tasty, you are still invited in an obligatory manner.
  2. You don’t drink coffee with your colleagues. We all know days, when you count minutes to get a project done and all your deadlines are burning. In fact, I have such days at least 3 times a week. Buuut….when your colleagues invite you for a cup of coffee, you go and drink a cup of coffee, even if it’s your 7th for today. Because you are a damn good team member.
  3. You don’t tell, what you did on the weekend. The question, which is usually asked on Monday, makes me sweat every week. Hmmm…what did I do on the weekend? Had sex with my BF, slept till lunch, watched TV?…Nope, I need a good story and everybody should see, what an interesting person I am. Because I am a damn team member. And I just love telling everybody about my personal life.. Read more