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Cultural Differences Between Polish And Russians In Doing Business

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1. Introduction

Culture consists of patterns of behavior and beliefs which characterize a group of people at a given point in time. The behavior may relate to religious practices, rituals, food choices etc.

[ Bidney, 1994]. Within the health system, cultural awareness is an understanding of the likely impact of these behaviors and beliefs, on health, illness, care and hospitalization. In the global economy effective intercultural communication is a "must". Business success is now build on understanding and nurturing strong relationships with international and multicultural colleagues, customers and clients.

Working, meeting, dealing, entertaining, negotiating and corresponding with colleagues or clients from different cultures can be a minefield. One wrong movement or basic misunderstanding could ruin or delay months of work.[Kwintessential, 2005]. Understanding and appreciating intercultural differences ultimately promotes clearer communication, breaks down barriers, builds trust, strengthens relationships, opens horizons and yields tangible results in terms of business success.

I decided to write on this subject, because I know how confused I was when visiting Russia this year. I had completely different view about this specific country thinking that it can not be much different then Poland. And that was my mistake.

This essay shows how two Slavic countries (Poland and Russia) can be different, and how useful is to know even just basic information about it while visiting or doing business.

2.Russia and Poland – general information

Poland is the 69th largest country in the world with area of 312,679 km². Poland’s territory extends across five geographical regions. It is situated in Central Europe, between Eastern and Western European continental masses. It has boarder with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast. Poland’s population is over 38.5 mln people. It has a population density of 122 inhabitants per square kilometer. About 95% of people are Poles, 5% belongs to minorities : Germans, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, Gypsies, Russians, Јemks and Lithuanians. Official language is Polish, however Polish low guarantees minorities to use their own languages. In 15 districts, German, Kashubian and Lithuanian language is used as a supportive official language. Catholics make up about 90% of the population. Religious minorities include Polish Orthodox , Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.3% or about 123,034), Eastern Catholics (0.2%), Lutherans (0.2%), and smaller minorities of Mariavites, Polish Catholics, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jews, Muslims (including the Tatars of BiaÑ-ystok) and various Protestants (about 86,880 in the largest Evangelical-Augsburg Church.

[Wikipedia, 2007].

Russia is the largest country in the whole world. It covers 17,075,400 km², extending over much of northern Eurasia. It shares land borders with North Korea, Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Estonia, Finland and Norway. There are over 145 million people living in Russia. Over 80 % of the population is ethnically Russia, larger ethnic minorities include Tatars, Ukrainians, Moldavians, Byelorussian, Bashkir and other various Caucasians people. The dominant religion is Russian Orthodox Christianity, through perhaps 10% of the population is Muslim. [Wikipedia, 2007].

Russia has over 1000 major cities. The most populated cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novogrod, Novosibirsk and Yaketerinburg. Moscow is the capital city with over 12 million residents, this is the economic and political centre. The Russian language is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to make their native language co-official next to Russian. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages.[LonelyPlanet, 2007].

3. Specific barriers of understanding other cultures.

ETHNOCENTRISM - a common idiom for ethnocentrism is “tunnel vision. It Seeing other people’s way of life only through one’s own "glasses," regarding one’s own culture as superior in all ways, can lead to unhealthy, proud attitudes, arrogant self-righteousness, and feelings of haughtiness which can destroy personal relationships. It is coupled with a generalized contempt for members of other groups. Ethnocentrism may manifest itself in attitudes of superiority or sometimes hostility. There are three types of ethnocentrism : afrocentrism, sinocentrism and eurocentrism. [Rashad, 1991].

PREJUDICE - rigid, negative attitudes based on faulty, preconceived, inflexible generalizations, numbs our ability to understand others. Prejudice too readily violates objective standards of fairness, justice, and impartiality. Prejudice is also seen as a different form of fear.

[Merriam-Webster, 2006]

STEREOTYPES - rigid biases - applied to all peoples of a particular group--demean others. Perceptions become immune to logic and experience. A stereotyped template skews all incoming information. Depersonalization and dehumanization result. Individuals become caricatured, distorted, and seen too often only in a negative light. [Rashad, 1991]

SELF – ASSERTIVENESS - Being bullheaded, successful "winners" often inhibits our ability to listen to others. The insensitive military slogan, "when you’ve got them by the shorts, their hearts and minds are sure to follow" expresses this barrier.[The free dictionary, 2007].

Isolationist - Too often we see things as we want to see them, overlooking or denying what is really present in another culture.

MORALISTIC - Seeing matters with an arrogant, God-given-destiny approach leads to judgmental, critical, insensitive thinking. The tendency is to believe one’s standards as superior to those of others, criticizing others on the basis of standards which may not be appropriate for their culture.[Word Reference, 2007].

RELIGIOSITY - This crusader instinct defines and advocates views concerning secular issues with an absolute religious certainty. Such definitions are more appropriate to the basic tenets of revealed religion. Religiosity goes contrary to the thoughts expressed by Abraham



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