We all know people are different. We speak different languages, we grow in a different social setting – a bunch of factors has influence on the way we react to something… But how do Russians differ from Americans? Why do they behave like they do? Below are some situations from my life and scientific explanations of them which I discovered recently.
One American friend of mine once asked me what I wanted to do in the future and how I was going to live my life. Shortly, what was my plan? It seems a simple question but… Trying to explain my view on my future I turned to such lexical units as “hope…” and “maybe” and I did it several times. My answer was obscure and abstract especially for an American having a different mentality. At that moment I was sure I couldn’t thoroughly formulate my plan because I’m in my 20s and I’m still searching for that very place/person/job… After all, there are circumstances and to be so confident about your plans is even a bit stupid. I felt I couldn’t say anything but general things and my American friend expressed his opinion: “You MUST plan and only then your life would follow that plan!” Misunderstanding? Kind of. Is it purely my personal problem with planning or something more? Of course, I asked this question myself…
It turns out cross-cultural psychologists studied this issue some years ago and made a conclusion that Americans consider an individual can influence the future while Russians think that life follows a certain way and an individual may only have a choice in frames of his/her destiny. But why is that? People living in Russia always lived in a country that stretches from west to east for thousands of kilometres. People inhabited places with severe weather where to plant crops was always a 50/50 thing. What did they have to do? Right, they hoped the weather would be fine and the following year would bring a good harvest… This all formed the way Russians think and it significantly affected our behaviour regarding planning which is so much about hope…
I changed quite a lot of jobs… I worked as a lifeguard, salesperson, teacher, receptionist… I worked in the sphere of oil and gas, tourism, and many more. When I quit my job, I feel some indescribable kind of pain, you know. No! I always change my job for a reason. And I’m incredibly happy I worked in all of those spheres! At the same time I’m happy I left those places. :)
But then, sending my CV to a new company, I’m thinking about how those people out there will evaluate my resume. Why? Because in Russia to change a lot of jobs is a sign that something’s wrong with that person. Yes-yes! Such people are considered not serious and their personal and professional qualities are in question. To work in one company for many-many years is a norm in Russia. You often can hear: “Wow! He has been working there for 10 years already!” This phrase usually implies admiration and praise. As it was noticed by scientists, Americans have a different point of view on people changing their jobs. Changing jobs often means a person likes to try new things, to learn new skills and meet challenges. So yes, such a difference!
– How many friends do you have?
– One true friend.
-What? How can it be? I would say you’re quite easy-going…
This is a normal situation in my life. Usually such conversations include my explanations that people I communicate with are my super great university group mates and just many wonderful acquaintances. I do appreciate all of them but I can’t call them real friends.
How does science explain this? Experts say Americans tend to have numerous friendly relations but they are often shallow and temporary. Social duties are often being avoided. In contrast, Russians seek for deep and permanent relationships. And when helping, Russians often think “Today I help him, and tomorrow somebody will help me”.
Of course, these differences between Russians and Americans can’t be applied to every single representative of this or that culture but still thay have place. These findings make me bear in mind that there’s always an explanation for somebody’s behavior. 🙂