Thursday, October 13, 2005

Russian Rudeness



Usually statements (usually made by Americans), like “Russians are rude” actually mean “Russians don’t smile.” In other cases it could be translated as “I behave in Russia as I’m used to behave back at home. I view my behavior as universally accepted all over the world. Then there people in Russia who find some aspects of my behavior insulting and when I refuse to adjust it they become rude.” In Russia one should be very careful about adjusting the everyday behavior to dozens of sensitive norms and regulations. This is true for every culture that is different from American or European. Only in Japan or in India cultural differences are visible and felt immediately. Unfortunately, Russia “looks” like a European country and Russians look like ordinary “white” people.
Rudeness could not be a prevailing trace of national character in principle. Every culture is a stable self-organized system. When most of its elements are “rude” it would disintegrate. In every culture people become rude when they want to give a strong and definite signal to the offender that his/her behavior would not be tolerated. I would say 99% of Russians live their daily life without being rude to each other. It only takes some openness, readiness to throw away some intercultural clich?s and a strong will to understand.
I try to illustrate this idea with one typical example – how to deal with rude shop assistances or waiters in Russia. First, let us dig deeper into Russian history. Only 80 years ago Russia was a predominantly rural country. Only 150 years ago most of Russians were serfs. Serfs are not slaves. Russian peasants never thought of themselves as slaves. They truly believed that they belonged to the land, that they were an integral part of the land. But the land belonged to the landowner thus making them also belong to the landowner. When in 1861 the tsar granted personal freedom this news was met with hundreds of peasants’ revolts. There’s no paradox here. Peasants simply couldn’t grasp it – they are free but their land stays with the landowner. It meant no freedom.
Landowners were “tolerated” by peasants just because by the evil fate they happened to possess peasants were bonded with by the God’s will. Doing obligatory part-time work for a landowner personally (barschina) was a God’s ordeal – a hard cross to bear. One couldn’t escape it so it was morally justified to revenge the landowner by doing barschina poorly, sabotaging the work, breaking instruments or stealing. Anyway, God wouldn’t treat it as a sin – stealing from a person whose ancestors grabbed our land ages ago. The most despised people among peasant were house-sefs – serfs who were taken from their land to serve at a landowner’s house: cooks, butlers, coachmen, etc. Those people were degenerated to the lowest rank – doing personal services for someone. Below were only prostitutes, thieves, and homeless – people whose bond with the land was broken forever.
Is it so surprising that nowadays people who work as waiters or shop assistants feel that they are doing a very humiliating job – serving other? I remember one American movie with Demi Moore playing a role of a strip dancer. She hated that job, hated customers, hated her boss but was still working because she was poor, she was a lonely mother and she needed money. In that movie Demi Moore looked at the strip bar patrons exactly like many Russian waiters look at their customers. “You see how humiliated I am. I degraded to being a restaurant-serf. Don’t you dare to humiliate me more by your stupid demands! I’m still a free man and can rebut your insults”.
Have patience with Russian service people. These people found themselves in this position not of their own accord. Evil fate forced them to do this degrading work.

66 comments:

ana said...

very interesting post.

~JS said...

I can identify with not smiling part, I live in Poland. But is it really just a matter of cultural relativism? There is a so-called 'culture of complaining' here in Poland and sociologists claim that it does have negative effects...although complaining serves as a social integrating factor in Poland, it also undermines that trust and dynamism needed to establish crucial, vibrant social institutions. So who ever says that it's simply a matter of cultural differences, needs to read the research on how those difference do and can make a difference....

Anonymous said...

In my experience, higher the serfs climb the social ladder, greater the level of boorishness encountered.
Sure, that said, you'll always get the sour-faced service in the local 'produkty', but that's only because you're disturbing them from much more important matters, such as gossiping and preening.

Anonymous said...

A culture is self-organizing. Ok, perhaps, but why call it a “system.” Maybe: a self-organizing tacit, say, body of knowledge? It isn’t something we learn necessarily in a school or a church, although that may be part of it. Huh?

But, then, all cultures change over time, don’t they? Even the natives cultures in … whatever country … Austrailia to the Americas change. This is such a given that the same people in the same geographic location may take on a entirely different culture over time, whether it’s the “serfs” (whatever that may be in that particular location) or the elite, “upper” or “noble” classes. Take, for example, Paris during the 1700s and Paris today. Thus, the importance of the relationship of history to anthropology.

When you used the word “rude,” you’re speaking, of course, from the strictly Russian point of view. Otherwise, you’re leaning toward an ethnocentric pole, which I don’t think you want to do. I don’t think there’s a universal standard of what is “rude” as there aren’t hardly any cultural standards for anything else.

I personally haven’t seen any shop attendant “ruder” than what I have seen in New York City (at least before 9-11), when they would greet a customer with a gruff, “well, what do you want?” as if the customer was an intrusion in what they were doing. But, then, the open-minded customer may understand that as “just New York City.”

Could you please, give an example, of what is it, exactly, that is “rude” to a modern Russian without ethnocentric expectations of what is polite. It seems to me you have taken a rather difficult topic. I think the closer you get to an everyday conversation of the people of Russia, the better your depiction of what exactly is Russian rudeness and politeness.

Thank you for the post.

Sean Guillory said...

After 10 months in Russia, I became accustomed to the lack of smiles. In fact I began to appreciate it along with the lack of the "service with a smile" attitude I got in shops and resturants. I feel that the "business" of shopping and dining are much more comfortable without having someone forcing a fake smile to get you to buy more. Its just less condescending . . . Plus as a veteran of a variety of the service industry, I have a certain class solidarity with my fellow retail workers.

What actually surprised me was coming back the States. As I waited in Kennedy for my connection, I noticed how Americans just don't know how to behave in public. They are loud, both verbally and in appearance, always looking to draw attention to themselves. The narrissism was just too much. I immediately desired to return to the subsuded faces of the Moskvichi.

What I've found in terms of Russian "rudeness" (I don't like to call it rudeness, but indifference. Though most Americans view the lack of smiley faces as rude)was that once you break that initial barrier of indifference and coldness, Russians are some of the warmest people I've ever met.

One question though, I was told by a Russian that they tend to view people who are always smiling as retarded. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

Sean, I enjoyed your comments. I don't know about Russians, but there's an expression in some Latin Americans countries that claim an idiot always smiles. Maybe this is getting close a "universal standard," except, of course, in America . . . but then there's the Americans ... (?)

Necromantic Angel said...

I learn something new from this blog every post. This is by far the best blog for someone who wants to go and study in Russia for the summer.

And this post really explained a lot about the whole "Russians don't smile" cliche among Americans, rephrase, especially among Americans.

Richard P. said...

This is complete bunk. My Russian born and raised friend Marina who now lives in the United States recently went home to Russia. She was struck by one thing- rudeness. My friend Misha P. from Saint Petersburg even says Russians are rude. It has little to do with personal relations and everything to do with non-personal interactions you have on the street. How is it that I lived in Russia for 5 months and visited the same cafe everyday and no one asked me who I was or why I was there? They clearly could tell by my speech that I was not Russian. Or being ignored by people at the store?

One piece of advice would be to say that- whatever the cause for this perceived Russian rudeness- Russians would do well to be more open and curious about others. I love Russia and its culture for many reasons. The Russians I have made friends with are some of the closest most personal friends I have. I have lived in three Russian homes and never felt any coldness but only loving warmth. But every culture has a defect and they shouldn't be dismissed as cultural diversity.

Konstantin said...

2 Richard P.
Russian percieved "rudeness" and "perceived" (no Russophobia here, I'm Russian myself) go hand in hand. Like horse and carriage. Next time try a simple sociological experiment - get to know better smiling "friendly" Russians. You will soon notice that they are unhospitable, cold, individualistic and above all guard their personal life. And vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Konstantin, to say that Russians are rude you obviously have something to compare them with - warm, hospitable, non-indivualistic non-Russians? To what ideal culture are you referring?

Richard P., "cultural diversity" is not derogatory phrase. It only means cultures are different. You must also have an ideal culture in mind, when you refer to a culture as having a "defect." Where is that ideal culture?

Isn't the discussion here confusing the relationship between friends and politeness? Doesn't politeness, however ethnocentric way you want to define it, refer to how people deal with strangers? I personally feel a stranger being "curious" or interested about me a bit rude. And, I should certainly hope that the environment of a home or among familiars is warm and friendly. How terrible it be would be otherwise.

Lyndon said...

This discussion seems to be a bit out of control and overanalytical. Obviously there are rude people everywhere and polite people everywhere, why make more out of it than that? Sure, Russians in service professions often don't have the customer's-always-right attitude required in the US. All that means is that they don't think they get paid enough to fake it, whereas Americans know if they don't fake it, they will be fired. An important thing which I didn't see mentioned is that it's a lot harder to fire an employee for subjective things like not smiling in Russia than in the US, where generally employees can be fired at will.

Anyway, if anyone's still interested in this topic, MosNews has a lengthy article about smiling in Russia here.

Anonymous said...

when I invite friends to brunch and put out a huge spread and the Russian guest "orders" something not on the spread, it's rude.

When I'm at a dinner table with a Russian and they bark the command to pass the potatoes without a simple "please", it's rude.

When a Russian friend demands one of my cigarettes, without any concern for etiquette or politness, it's rude.

While it may very well be that this is just how the Russian culture has evolved, it does not mean that they are not rude.
I often wonder if the word "please" exists in the Russian language.

Anonymous said...

I dont know where you?re from, people, but I do speak 8 languages and Im, I supposed, at least I hope, open-minded.
Politeness, rudeness and smiling dont have great deal to do with cultures. If you like what you do, if youre comfortable between your ears, at ease with yourself, you will be kind to other humans anyway. Frustration is a big part of it. And smiling is not just for idiot, its part of the appreciation to live and to the will to communcate it.
Tolerance is a word one should remind, because snobbing people is a part of being an attarded being.
Grazie, Danke, Spassiba, thank you, merci beaucoup,
Polyglot peaceful man.

Anonymous said...

I am sick of reading the justifications of Russian rudeness. Russian people are rude, vengeful, disrespectul people. The only polite Russian people I've ever come across are "Americanized" Russians who assimilated into the American culture.

I live in a neighborhood of Russian-Jews and they are so rude. I've seen these people NOT make way for elderly people on the sidewalk. They will also jump in the line at a grocery store not respecting the rest of the people waiting.

I am so glad there is an awareness of Russian-rudeness in this country. I also hope there will be an awareness soon of the fact that Israel and the Russian mafia run the United States.

Anonymous said...

After about a year in poland and some time in russia,I think I can make a comment here.At the first look people's behaviours can seem not much different from other europeans.But you can notice the general impoliteness of people in east europe.You can invite some people you think they are friends they can come and stay at your clean,expensive flat as if its their own,come without a present(not material thing),dirt everywhere,have shower 4 times a day,leaving it so and go away (like a hotel?)and not notice it before you express your thoughts.Actually Im talking about people who have master degrees.I dont even mention about shop assistants!But for sure not everyone is so,the culture comes from people's parents,the way they are grown up,thats the strongest argument in a humans character.But I can say theres a noticable impoliteness and rudeness in the culture of this region.

Anonymous said...

I hear a lot of comments from friends and collegues that when they meet Russian tourists in countries like Egypt, Turkey and Thailand, that these people are (for the most part) incredibly rude. They will ignore a line of people waiting to be served for food, and head for the front of the row. Doesn't help to say something about it, they just seem to shrug and go on.
Off course this isn't true for all Russians, it can't be. But I've heared it from a lot of people experiencing this.

I know the Russians are a proud people, but do they feel themselves superior to others? And so not bound to (unwritten) rules that apply to others? Or is there allways chaos in Russia, and no waiting lines?

Anonymous said...

That is a very weak rationalization. Every Russian I have ever met (admittedly never in Russian) is as inconsiderate as possible. Just last week, a Russion physically pushed his way to the front of a souvenir stand at the Beijing Olympics to but a pin. Why can't Russian tourists stand in line (queue), Mr. Sociologist?

Anonymous said...

1. you people ignore very important issue entirely; you are NOT ethnic related peoples;
you dont accept a foundation of genetic determined behavior. the west isle peoples have almost nothing in common genetic or historic with slav people. this utopia of 'everyone is white' is the deepest lie told. like to say every one asian, or everyone black or everyone native. wrong. wrong. wrong. mother nature made many versions of people from primate cousins to modern monkies; not simply one. only idiot believe that all mankind derive of one. these men are devoid of gods reason entirely.

2. if you dont accept this, dont go to russia, dont judge foriegn peoples because there different. they have NO choice. yes you can learn any behavior; doesnt mean its natively intuitive. open your limited cognitive descendent monkey brains to ethnic difference, distinct culture. and quit asking for a unity that never will mean anything in this world.

3/ focus on god and faith and a unity through that means in the true existence opposite this. thats the idea conveyed by jesus.

4. leave other people ALONE if you cant recognise they are different of nature and DONT try to conform them with this english nonsense; be like me mentality. enough of england and their 'im white' nonsense. your english. accept it. not russian.

5. here i have spoken only of russian people; 1 of some 160-200 racial groups in russian federation. the beauty of russia is that you cant find INTACT racial groups with own language. look anywhere in canada or usa for that. NO. english have a historic problem with other peoples. yes?

sad. as to all other people; well i have said accurately upon subject. it justify different behavior. i have noted you english, call yourself what you want; american, canadian, australia are all same; smile smile smile for stupid things and SO INSINCERE! its the method of your economy, for 1500 years. the true english were better people :(
but that was 1500 years ago.

that real english were subjected in 1066 by william the unfair. they lost their kingdom and culture to a barbarity; todays english are rather a sotted lot.
english, jew, and some other.

kaytishina69@yahoo.ca

Anonymous said...

now i must reply that other man; his idea of rude rude rude; first conception to russian people is:

we are our persons, with self command; we care not to endlessly
sacrifice our own command for anothers pleasure. we are not prostitute; though indeed many may accept it because they are forced of desperation.

if we dont like food, we dont like, simply because you offer us means nothing to us; we are our own person. we have high autonomic destiny. you may offer we reserve to decline. we dont have to accept nothing. dont like? then why approach? because english want something else from russian people; they know what it is. sex.
they are very angry they cant 'easy' cooperation as is usual with their nonsense. in truth real russian people; with own money and capacity require no sex with english poor men; whom have only money yet no looks and very despressing spirits beyond the smiles and nonsense sayings. a nation of 'johns' truly. i reside in canada and see it. sad. thats why you beg girls around world for sex for money. without money what can you ever do save make an army and take?

even in your countries i must use stupid name and say stupid things to make money! there is NO culture for long in your countries. people are truly 'b***hs' to eachother. no wonder your swear nasty so much!




kaytishina69@yahoo.ca

Anonymous said...

Russian tourists in other countries? Oh, as a matter of fact most of them are no representatives of the whole nation. Because usually (note, I didn't say always) Russian people who have that much money are Novye Russkie (New Russians), which do feel superior to others and consider everyone else either as a "bratok" (fenya - prison slang - for brother), or as a potential silent i-do-whatever-you-want servant. Often they believe everyone's duty is to make them pleased. The good thing is that kind of people may disappear.

Anonymous said...

im a european born american. i've never set foot in russia (unfortunately) but i have come to know *a*lot* of russians, most expats, through my life. a few of them even became close friends. the interesting thing is that *every*single*one* of them are to a varying degree rude cynics who instinctively assumes the worst about just about their bosses, politicians, even their neighbors.

while not IMO a pleasant characteristic, being a rude cynic doesnt make you a bad person anymore than being loud and obnoxious (yes, that stereotype does fit quite a few americans) but it certainly is a national characteristic that fits many if not most russians.

Maxime said...

This peasant-humiliation theory is indeed quite intriguing. I do not think it justifies aggressive behaviour towards a customer, however.

I have spent about two years of my life in Russia, in Moscow and Piter. I would say the main rudeness one encounters is (1) the directness of speech about even personal matters and xamstvo, though that is not a universal cultural trait (just too common), and (2) the total disregard for personal space. Yes, I was there long enough to see the limits to (2) as well.

I think a big problem Westerners have with Russians is that the Russians, or Russophones, who come to their countries are the worst kind. These are New Russian bandits and their spoilt, evil-minded children, some aggressive Jews, and other ex-Soviet asset strippers. They are rude, cut queues, etc., because that is how they got ahead.

Obviously I know that such behaviour in a working class area of Russia might get your head pummeled in. Though, honestly, considering all the crap that goes on there, it is an incredibly unviolent place (as in I hardly saw any fights).

regina barnett said...

It's nice sometimes...not have to smile, when you don't feel like it..So I would fit in well in Russia..In America there so much that put you in lots of stress..being yourself in alot better, than trying to fake it with a smile... So yea for the Russians

bananna said...

I am Russian born, and I will admit that Russians can be seem as rude people. For Russians it is normal and not rude to express their emotions. I had a young teacher who was in a unhealthy relationship. Her day has been reflected by her mood and her actions and affected how the class was taught. We all knew by 1st second we saw her, if this class is going to be fun or painful. Russian do take their emotions on others and have a very short temper.

And yes, it is perceived sometimes if you smile all the time you are "crazy"

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Anton DC said...

To 4th post down and some others,
Sir, are you suggesting we should describe rudeness objectively? How the hell do you describe "rudeness" without "leaning toward an ethnocentric pole"? This is a comparative analysis of Western vs Russian culture, not a field study in the Amazon. I am Russian myself and how do you expect me to take that as a viable justification? "Hey man, you're Russian it's historically justifiable that you tend to be this way. Just let it roll." Excuse me, but there is no reason why i should wait two hours to get my coffee at KOFE HAUS except that some princess thinks she is "better than that." It's like these ladies have the Katerina the Great complex. As if, they're all just "out of place" and as if you really considered their lineage they would all be dignities, nobility in the modern elite. The problem is NOT in that they think they're surfs, it's in that they consider themselves monarchs. Arrogance is prevalent in Russia because it allows people to establish their own identities; and, unfortunately everyone, count out the new hippy/emo/alternative western movements, possess this rude and primitive trait. Regarding the Brooklyn diasporas of Russian Jews, i can say that the culture is recreated and though somewhat mellower it still feral.

Anonymous said...

I understand that all cultures have non-verbal cues that can be misconstrued by people from host cultures like the US. I know many Russians, and I have long ago stopped being taken aback by these cues, which are foreign to me, but I do not judge. I am not a very smiley person either. I used to live in Minnesota where everyone has a smile on their face in order to hide what they really think about you. I hated Minnesota and their phoniness niceness, dubbed by non-Minnesotas as "Minnesota Ice."
However, in all fairness, there is a difference between the non-verbal peculiarities and mannerisms of other cultures and outright rudeness, and Russians are painfully rude. They seem to expect everyone to adapt to them, but they refuse to adapt to their host-culture--and I am sorry, but when in Rome you should show a little gratitude and do as the Romans do for diplomacy's sake.
I am sick of going to my gym, which is frequented by lots of clueless, whiney, demanding Russian women who have really let American affluence go to their heads. They rude to staff, and they boss other members around like they own the place. They exhibit all the most obnoxious hallmarks of new money: ostentation, affectation, arrogance. All of a sudden they are "accustomed" to having it better than they ever had it, and they are all of a sudden Tsarinas in their universe.
My favorite incident was in a parking garage. This Russian woman drove a parked car that pulled out after she was two cars further on. I turned on my directionals to take the spot. This woman gets out of her car and starts waving her arms and directing the cars behind her to back up because she wanted the space. This would have required about 10 cars to back up so the Tsarina could claim the space.
I pulled into the space and she comes up to my car, bangs on the window and informs me that this just would not do, that it was her spot, that I had some nerve. She was having the kind of temper tantrum a child has with an over indulgent parent. I told her that customarily, when you drive past a spot that is taken, and a car pulls out after you have past, and you do not indicate your intention to take the spot by stopping and turning on your directionals that you forfeit the spot. I also told her she was completely out of line, was holding up traffic, had the manners of a Russian peasant, and that she should stop being a spoiled brat, and stop putting everyone out. Wow, she must have had it really great in Russia to have such entitlement issues. I could give a damn about what these women think they are entitled to.

Anonymous said...

first off, i am not racist. second of all i come from a very diverse background but consider myself to be an american. third, russians are the rudest, dirtiest, cheapest, smelliest, meanest, most horrid people i have ever met? they'll skip you at the supermarket because theyre in rush, they'll pickpocket your grandmother, theyll let their dog shit and not clean it up, theyll shoplift and pretend they dont speak english, they scam the govt for foodstamps and public assistance while having a shitload of $ in the bank. before you respond like a total uptight ass, i have plenty of russian friends and they too will admit this:russians are vile, greedy, disgusting people.i dont know about all over the world but i can damn sure say this holds true for the ones who live in brighton beach, brooklyn.nuff said

Rebeca said...

Interesting post! I live in New York City and I these are my two cents. I believe there are all kinds of people in the world and "niceness" is certainly not limited to our own side of the globe. However, I do have to admit that most of the Russians I have contact with are not exactly sweet. So, one day I approached a Russian friend of mine about this particular issue and this is what he answered: He told me that instead of "mean", if he doesn't smile at a complete stranger he is simply being "honest". He would not smile unless there is a good reason, because otherwise it would just be fake. It was a very simple answer, but it made me think...and honestly it makes a lot of sense. I realized that sometimes we go so far in our effort to be nice and polite that we make ourselves targets to people who are looking to take advantage
of us. Trying to understand other cultures may not be always this easy but I believe it's always worth the effort.

Kwad said...

In fairness without living in a community you cannot know anything about them. If anyone believes Russians are per say rude they would be absolutely correct! I live in Moscow, the propaganda, nationalism and xenophobia is incredible. The state controlled media everyday tells one country or another is against the motherland, but Putin will save them. So take that mentality then add low wages or tips and WOW you get bad service. Who'd have thought?

Anonymous said...

So glad I found this forum! I married into a Russian-Jewish family and thought I was crazy. Luckily, I divorced the same Russian family. I caught my exhusband cheating when I was six months pregnant. His father justified his actions because he felt American women were stupid to believe a man should have to be faithful. My ex father in law would berate me bacause I was Catholic. After my marriage to his son collapsed, he decided he didn't want his grandson. He said you raise him. You wanted to get pregnant. This isn't my family's problem. It's your family's problem. I was stunned. As I've talked to Russians over the years, apparently, any flaw in someone else is perceived as fatal and they will disown their own grandson like it's no problem. Don't get me wrong, I get on my knees and thank God everyday these weirdos are not in my life. That family was sooo bizarre. It sucked at the time, but I'm so grateful. When my mother in law passed away (she was the only good one in the gang), they didn't even mourn. These freaks aren't human. It's sad that they won't immigrate back to Russia, though. I hate that they live in my country and the two children serve in the Air Force. Very scary! Glad that's off my chest. Spassiba, folks! LOL. RIP, Marina.

Anonymous said...

why should I smile at a stranger? why should I be interested, why he is here and who he is? It's not any business of mine. it's all your everlasting desire to seem nice and sweet. you are liers - your fake smiles, who need them? it's my right to be sad when something is wrong in my life. you're accustomed to no private life - you put your private videos to the Internet, and all these stupid shows when people get the opportunity to spy upon others, you adore them, they come from you country. I have right for my personal life, I'm not obliged to let any stranger into it. that's the way we take it.
when we Russians make friends, we're the most understanding and loving people. when we care for you - we really care. we just hate pretense and you like it. you think your way of behavior is the rightest - it's a mistake. we are really honest. it makes one's life easier. I smile only at those whom I like or who is my friend. I'm not going to spend my whole life on pretending.

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Anonymous said...

I was born and grew up in Russia, in the very heart of it: Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). And it was often very obvious to me that most people around me were very rude. Not all, but in their mass, Russians tend to have bad manners - and it is not because of our "different culture", as the author seems to suggest here, but because 'proletarian' manners, intolerance to others' opinions or desires, lack of consideration for others was cultivated for a long time during the communist regime, while isolation and difficult life exacerbated the problem. Hopefully the nation will overcome it as it becomes more open and quality of life goes up.

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Serafima said...

ok . people ... I have had a lot of fun reading all that .. I am Russian Now US Citizen ..OMG .. I still not accepted in states and never will be .. becuase how I was told
I am to much to face ...
males afraid that I will hurt them physically h ha ha ..
That i am cold heart ed ... cynical and not kind ...
so horrible misjudgment... of us Russians... read more not just Russian classics but generally world wide classical literature become normal human not local red neck who did study American Indians History in 5 grade and btw in wrong interpretation - then try to judge other cultures and would not hurt to travel a bit out of your county ... what is ugly for me in immigrants is the fact that most of Russians refused econ keep own Slavic names and woman with Slavic Name Svetlana - Sveta some how becomes LANA in states .. yak.. they even pretend that they do not speak Russian ...
loyal to own system would not become a loyal citizen in new homeland - just no habit to be loyal to any one and so how ridiculous it sounds - people who truly were good citizens under communism in Russia they will be an d in states the best citizens adn all trash who was looking for better life never will appreciate and new homeland .. as to me being rude - I do not care to send a message to moron that he is a moron and why I need smile if I do not feel so ?? as matter of fact I asked my kids to stop give me fake smiles and be normal and sincere not as my american freinds who has as an idiot smile on face when i talk to her but in fact she just dreams about Mc Donlads and soda at the moment and not in to conversation ... but smiling .. why she can not tell me "
- you know what ?? I am bored .. I do not like the topic .. let better go to Mc Donalds ??
I would respect her more .. as to waiters ..OMG I was not able to eat how many times they asked if allok - I want just first to cry then run away then scream to them - stop bother me !!! I am having fun with my BF !! waitress here will flirt and talk as they are part of my evening event ... sometime just can not go away .. and i need smile ?? and give a tip ?? ha ha OMG all what they need just look and monitor on when they are called and needed not stand by your table and look in to your mouth ..

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Gadgets UK said...

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Lexy said...

russians are disgusting pigs that would rob their own mother.

Anonymous said...

I've always loved Russians. I've been to and lived in Russia several times, and have many Russian friends. Overall, I've found that Russians IN Russia are pretty cool, but Russians in America are the spawn of Satan. Maybe because for the most part, they're all refugee Jews? I don't know.

Nick said...

The arrogance just drips off the post of Serefima.
I will answer all of you why Russians are the way they are. I will compare America to Russia because one is Christian the other is not.
Russians are rude and judgmental because there blood is the by-product of thousands of years of Atheism and Alcohol. They have no smile because they have nothing to smile about; they have no politeness because they never valued gentleness. They are rude because they grew up that way among bestial barbaric people. If you’re a Russian in America let me give you some advice as a friend, open your eyes and look how God has blessed a people of many nations simply because they have obtained the American spirit of politeness and gentleness to all people no matter their color, race, or creed. Become interested in people and be more selfless then your neighbor. In America it is all about the other person, not you. This idea is dying in America so I try to keep it alive.
No other nation understands that in order to pursue life, freedom and happiness one must pursue God. That is why America has attained to a polite and healthy life, they have understood that wheat’s and tares are grown together and so they built a country that gives these freedoms to the evil and the good.
It is simply because one choses evil and arrogant way while the other choses the American Christian way. Their choice may seem as their own, one of free will, but the bible says one person is made for destruction while the other is made for servitude, which means they were designed… to choose this way.
As I was growing up in America my barbaric dad was as such “look at that gorilla” and “I grew up among wolves”. And so… I understand that Russians do not understand the American way because God is not shining on them. If I were to design a model for the fresh Russian in America, the model would be this… learn English and insert yourself into an American Christian life and learn their way, take some of your good qualities and get rid of your bad qualities and you will become stronger and stronger. If you want to hang on to mother Russia, you should have stayed there.
… a little message to serafima, check yourself if you can. You’re as backwards as all your ancestors.

Thomas said...

c'td...
"No other nation understands that in order to pursue life, freedom and happiness one must pursue God."

--America typically permits a lot more abortions than the countries it bombs the hell out of . It is not a godly country.

"That is why America has attained to a polite and healthy life,"

--Its social fabric is being torn to shreds (as in parts of Europe) and the people are anything but healthy.

"It is simply because one choses evil and arrogant way while the other choses the American Christian way."

--The USA is a giant shopping mall owned by offshore corporations (themselves run by atheists, WASPy agnostic Episcopalians, and Jews) which pay no tax and speculate away the nation's wealth. When they have hard economic times, they buy off Congress to give them free money and pass the debt onto the middle class and poor. The US has 17% unemployment but the govt is trying to enact austerity, cancel unemployment insurance, privatise social security, and give amnesty to illegal workers. That is REAL America. Just like REAL Russia is run by a sort of political mafia. However, that Russia also looks out for its own geopolitical interests and has paid OFF its foreign debt.

"Their choice may seem as their own, one of free will, but the bible says one person is made for destruction while the other is made for servitude, which means they were designed… to choose this way."

--Perhaps you are a member of the heretical Calvinist cult?

"As I was growing up in America my barbaric dad was as such “look at that gorilla” and “I grew up among wolves”. And so… I understand that Russians do not understand the American way because God is not shining on them."

--No true Christian claims he has God's special favour and others are damned. You spoke of 'arrogant' Russians and now this?! You speak of your 'barbaric dad'...are you part Russian yourself but a convert to the heretical Calvinist "I'm more saved than you" cult?

"If I were to design a model for the fresh Russian in America, the model would be this… learn English and insert yourself into an American Christian life"

--My family has been in the US since the 1660s. I would say to Americans - love what is great about your history but reject what was wrong. Don't hate your ancestors for their mistakes but don't repeat them either. Reject Deism and Protestantism and return to catholic/orthodox forms of the faith. But, please, remember your ancestors' humility and desire to be free of foreign monarchs, bankers, and zealous theocrats in league with the former.

"… a little message to serafima, check yourself if you can. You’re as backwards as all your ancestors."

--I would say you are an "ugly" American of whom I am quite ashamed, but I think, in fact, you are a second- or third-generation immigrant with major complexes! God does not choose you randomly from birth for favours...you have to choose God, and you don't do it by chasing wealth, or talking about how your adopted homeland is the bestestestestest and you love God soooooooooooo much more than the "arrogant" Russians. You show your beliefs in your way of life.

Why don't you start doing that?

Anonymous said...

hm...I've been to Russia recently at few cities there, for few weeks. Frankly speaking, they are rude. Sorry.


The taxi drivers do not smile, people on the streets just like to stare at you without a reason.


As a tourist, I just managed to learn few words of Russian. In small or big cities, almost no people speak the international language. They refused to TRY to understand if we tried to speak English slowly. The same goes when I tried to speak Ruski (bcause I believe one should give some exception if they saw a foreigner like me??? because the British/American/Indonesian did). They refused to understand if I tried to explain using hand signal. They are not just being refusing, they might be shouting at you. They do not want to reply unless you speak good Ruski. only Ruski. They just do not understand simple English words, or do they hate it?


At the airport... I was walking quite a long way to the toilet but a young lady (with a seriously serious face) in a uniform stopped me and said 'Maintainance. You can't go in' in ruski. I wished I could speak good Ruski at that time. So I was hoping she would show me the way to other female toilet nearby since she just standing there doing nothing. But she repeated the sentence with angry face. I was thinking, can't she think that I need help since she knew I really needed it?


In the train...They just walked in the train corridor and bumped at my shoulder which then pushed my shoulder to the iron pole nearby, walked away without apologizing. That is the most bastardly-mannered person.

I was going up at the double decker bed and some guys just cannot wait to pass along the corridor that I had to pause the struggling 'hike' in the middle of people. I would just take few seconds, what's the rush?


For 17 hours in the train, no one smile at me except other foreigners. Not a smile, not a single word. We foreigners had some chit chat while Russians just stared. I wonder what went to their minds.


I was in this hostel, they are guests of young Russian girls as well. I walked straight to the bathroom (which everyone shared) and one of them quickly grab the door handle before me, speaking ruski to me. As I said, she was 'speaking', not 'saying'. What I mean 'saying' here is, saying sorry or something. Then she went in. I was like, hmmm???????


Every conversation was translated by my own brother while we were there. Even though my brother have been living there for 6 years as a student, he himself said that rudeness is their culture.


Russia is a beautiful country but I do not think I would be going there again.


This is based on my experience. I am just telling what I feel. no offense okay.

Thomas said...

I may feel myself that some sort of abstract rudeness is more common in Russian culture than most others, but the last commenter was ridiculous and parochial in mentality:

"The taxi drivers do not smile" --Taxi drivers most everywhere do not smile!!!

"people on the streets just like to stare at you without a reason"
--That is far less true of Russia than other countries! I can say that either you stuck out like a sore thumb (which is probably your fault), were being loud and annoying (definitely your fault), or you had bad vibes and are overly sensitive.

"almost no people speak the international language"
--Not because they are rude! They just don't know English! Why would they have to? The ex-USSR is its own realm. Russian is the international language over a large chunk of the world.
Btw, you haven't quite mastered the 'international language' yourself, as I can't understand parts of what you mean to say.

"They just walked in the train corridor and bumped at my shoulder"
--I agree, that is rude. But you will get the same treatment in China, from Japanese tourists anywhere, and even here in rich, Western Scandinavia. The importance of personal space differs greatly between cultures.

"For 17 hours in the train, no one smile at me except other foreigners"
--You're on...a train...with strangers...who don't speak your language (and you don't speak theirs in THEIR country)...so what do you expect?
If you've read some other comments, maybe you've noticed the remark that smiling at strangers is alien to traditional Russian culture (especially for ladies). This has somewhat worn off but you have to accept it. Most people in the world don't smile at everyone all the time, not even everyone in the US, and that does not make them 'rude'.

"I am just telling what I feel"
--Relaying your emotions in a public forum without investigating or considering their underlying causes is typically a bad idea.

It sounds to me like maybe you shouldn't travel so far from home. It seems you went to Russia without even being aware of basic cultural sensitivities and were offended when people did not treat you the same way as at home.

Yes, many Russians are rude, and much rude behaviour is more common there than most places, but you described a lot of normal occurrences as offensive!

Anonymous said...

While I understand the main points of the article, I have to say that I disagree with the defensiveness. Please behave more like the French and be proud of your Russian rudeness.

In any country people can be rude. However, I get this sense of general dis-satisfaction and misery from most Russian people I meet _online_.

Anonymous said...

And now your homework:

There are nations and cultures assumed to be extremely rude... by Russians. Please name those cultures and explain their rudeness.

Anonymous said...

I live in Finland and would have to agree that the majority of Russians I have come across are extremely shallow, self interested people, bar maybe one of them. Sorry, but this is just how they behave. For one I have never met a single Russian that did not smoke. They all follow a desperate stereotype of what is assumed to be trendy (Perhaps a mad rush to catch up with what is wrongly perceived as new age) and it just comes of as simple mindedness. I once dated a Russian girl who was shocked to hear I played video games. Only the nerdiest of losers at school in Russia play games! She was also baffled to hear that I had not taken up any form of martial arts training. It appears that in Russia all men are supposed to train to fight/box (because they are men and that is manly)and a women's priority for the most part in life is to look pretty...such a culture that is so hyper aware of status and power is so vain..It just seems that even when you scratch the surface of a Russian, a nice one at that, there is still very little there. Perhaps this is the 'lost generation' that we refer to which is the result of being born in between the changing of political ideologies. Just my honest two Euro cents about the issue, thought I was the only one who noticed this behaviour.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, rudeness can come from anyone; even the nicest of all people. This does not comprise all Russians to be rude. They may show less care, but then again, it depends on how they were nurtured. All the Russians I know are very nice; in fact, much nicer than many of my school mates. As far as I am concerned, it depends on how we react to them that triggers the "rudeness" or "politeness". My boyfriend is Russian and he's not completely rude; he just likes to be honest. He also dislikes the many stereotypical Russians that people see; the utterly ignorant and irresponsible ones. I don't mean to offend the author's thoughts, but I just can't find any rude Russians around my environment.

Anonymous said...

I've just heard some complains from my English friends about Russian people being very rude on holiday in Egipt. They weren't pleasant not just by not smiling or not using or never replying to an obvious 'hi'. They literally phisically almost grabbed and moved or pushed people that are on their way in the corridor or shop. This is considered as aggresive valiation of private space in most countries. I'm Polish and I tried to defend Russians and explain all those cultural differences. The complexes, hard life, lack of international experience. Some Polish are simillar but Rusians have their pride on top of it - strange mixture of feeling very important and feeling portraid as bad and poor in american movies. I ve seen Russians in action on a coach in Rome pushing and banging on a front seat because she did not have space to cross her legs. That was just sad.
___
Anyway I think Russian media should raise the problem because it is not very good for Russian image abroad. Polish media is very critical and highlight any shame Polish cause abroad because it's bad in many ways for people and country. British media also condemn drunken behaviour of some English young holiday makers.
Common sense should suggest that if I am not in my own country I should not apply my habits but rather watch carefully if I am behaving right.

Annie said...

I'm an American who's lived in both Moscow and the province. In Moscow, I assumed the rudeness was simply the product of being in a crowded, urban environment. Same reason why New Yorkers are often repulsive to other Americans. But after visiting many other small towns and experiencing the same rudeness, I realized it is indeed a Russian thing. Not smiling is one thing. But when shop owners scream at me because I'm taking a few minutes to decide what I want to buy, people pushing me out of the way on the street (when there is clearly enough room for them to pass by), taxi drivers snapping at me with all kinds of attitude, and just a general smart alec-ness in conversation with Russians (when I ask you to repeat something it's because I didn't hear you or understand you, you don't need to huff & puff at me and say "Well I just told you.."), that's what I call rudeness. I attribute most of it to the difficult life in Russia. I'm sorry if that sounds offensive, but it's true. Life out here is much more stressful and lower quality than elsewhere. In the Midwest USA, the rudest people I come across almost always happen to be blue collar, menial labor workers. They have unpleasant jobs each day and they are usually crabby all the time. Here, it's people in all socioeconomic positions and backgrounds. Because even people will comfortable salaries have to incorporate low quality-ness in their day to day lives. The bad road systems, the stores, and the general depressing grey Soviet infrastructure that makes up the environment. I'm not lecturing anyone here, I'm simply pointing out my theory as to why Russians are angry and rude. Since living here, I've turned pretty rude and depressed myself.

Anonymous said...

Good Blog!

I've been teaching and living in Russia for over a year now. I'm also married to a very caring, talented, and selfless Russian woman. Most of my Russian students at the university are very friendly, selfless, and eager-to-please. There have been only a couple of instances where I've had a "falling out" with Russians who were a little better than mere acquaintances.

However, the "average," day-to-day Russian who I meet on the streets I feel are very rude, and, more importantly, my Russian students, wife, and Russian acquaintances here all state, without hesitation, that Russians are rude (speaking in "general" terms).

What is meant by "rude" is that when you try to cross the streets the cars come within inches of your person and seem to not care about your safety (I've been told that Italy is worse though); also, as has been indicated, people will purposely nudge, elbow, and shove people on the streets even when there is plenty of room (I've seen this while walking more than a few times); the standing-in-line problem has been addressed thoroughly above, but I strongly agree that it's a problem here with people --they just walk in front of you without care; another point of "rudeness" is just a general "attitude" of un-compassionate and disrespectful interactions on a day-to-day level (at the stores while buying groceries or even while buying tickets for an excursion).

I've tried to overcome this air of rudeness (to look past it and really be a part of the culture here), but it's not just a weekly issue; these rude "encounters" happen daily, and it's very hard to feel a sense of belonging, care, or appreciation for the "general" population of people here.

It's good to know that many others have had similar experiences, and maybe "venting" is the first step towards getting past this and really integrating/appreciating who Russians really are apart from being a predominantly "rude" people towards each other and towards foreigners.

Thanks,
Matthew

Anonymous said...

Well Russians can be rude, so as Dutch. so as italians. btw Russian-jews in the states or wherever the are, consider themselves jewish in the first place. so shouldn't this post be about jewish rudeness?

Anonymous said...

Russian people are downright rude. i can't describe the dis respectfulness of their behaviour. i had to live with about 10 of them during my work and travel and it was not a pleasant experience. they would huddle up around the table and talk about my bulgarian friend and i. and i know because the bulgarian girl understood some of what they said and could translate. they drove me and the bulgarian girl crazy during the 3 months. at one point i literally wanted to fight one of them but people encouraged me to keep my cool. even one night the bulgarian girl wanted to past one of them and the russian girl stood side ways, wouldnt move and pretended like she didnt see her. the girl had to squeeze past her to get through. they are rude and inconsiderate. it's the first time i met russians and i have nothing good to say about them.

Anonymous said...

I GUESS THERE'S LOTS OF RUSSIANS IN NEW YORK?? NEW YORK IS THE MOST RUDE CITY IN THE U.S.

BEING RUDE IS NOT A CULTURE!!
MAYBE IT'S JUST ALL THAT VODKA!!

HANGOVER 247

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Anonymous said...

Russians are assholes. I live in NY in a Russian neighborhood and these people are a nightmare. I also work in a hospital and they are always fighting with us for something. They have a 1:00pm appointment, come in at 9am and demand to be seen. We explain to them what appointment times are for and they just wave us away like we're the ones being ridiculous. They also always try to fight for free transportation and say "Please, help me....I come from Brooooooklyn." As if they traveled 18 hours to get to the hospital. Pathetic.

Thomas said...

Last Anom,

You know I have never lived in Brooklyn, but I am pretty sure the great majority of 'Russians' there are Soviet Jews. They are concentrated at Brighton Beach. Obviously, there are ethnic Russians in NY too, but people need to distinguish between Russians and Jews.

Anonymous said...

You've got it!!

Anonymous said...

And you've got it!!

Anonymous said...

You've got it. Bingo!

Anonymous said...

The nastiest people whom I've ever known are Jews and Russian-Jews. Russia Jews are barely Jewish at all. They just kept all of the annoying behavior of being Jewish.

Anonymous said...

You know, that's the irony of it all. Russian culture being affected by American and western "culture"(not even sure it can be called a genuine culture, more like a product of money and individualism), being corrupted, forcing everyone to form an own identity, not wanting to be associated with the "naiveness" of the old Russia and USSR.
It does have some positive sides by it, but unfortunately many more negative.
This actually creates a very divided Russia, with huge contrasts, remember this important point (contrasts).
I'm Russian in early twenties, immigrated to Norway at age 10, so I really have a larger picture and a different angle than most Russians, but I think even they won't argue with what I've pointed out in this comment.

Anonymous said...

I want to add that, yes, Russians can be perceived as "sad", "depressed", "rude". But it's a way of dealing with negative and depressing thoughts. This self-awareness and honesty of emotions are what making Russian people Russian. It's reflected in literature, songs, tv, just everywhere.
Being "sad" is considered a part of life, as natural and normal as being happy.
That's the biggest difference between Russia and the west, that Russians don't try to hide who they are, and it's really what makes Russia so unique and dear to Russians, no matter how sad you get, you know that you live in a fundamentally, spiritually harmonious society, and there is no place better to be on earth.

It's a reason Russians leaving to live in western countries have an urge to come back at some point, or seek other Russians in that new place. And some of them unfortunately lose their Russian identity to money and generally the appealing culture around them.

Another thing, Russians don't see themselves as "superior", it's just how they express themselves, in a shameless, honest way.

Both Russia and west have something to learn from eachother, but west has to learn much more, lets just put it this way ;)

Anonymous said...

I didn't bother even to read about Russians but I will tell you gays Russians rude and not friendly people. They all need something from you if they smile and talk to you nice. I have been in theirs country and my look shock them! They are all so unhappy people. I am sorry for them. Pure those people who have colorful skin, Russians just thing they are not humans. Russians give to them name "black bottom". I see that Russian people extremely racist.