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The nonverbal language refers to messages that people send to one another that don't include words.  These messages complement, accent, substitute, repeat, or contradict the verbal message.  Since Russia is a collectivist society, they generally rely more heavily on the nonverbal message.  There are six general categories of nonverbal: proxemity, haptics, chronemics, kinesics, paralanguage, and olfactics.  Several of these categories will be described below.

Kinesics (facial expressions/body mvmt.)

Flicking your chin with your index finger indicates either “let’s drink” or “he is drunk.”

Putting your thumb through your index and middle fingers or making the "OK" sign are considered rude in Russia.

Oskar Enters City TalkA handshake is always appropriate when greeting or leaving, regardless of the relationship.  Gloves should be removed before shaking hands.  Don't shake hands over a threshold (The Russian folk belief holds that this action will lead to an argument).

Initial greetings may come across as cool.  Do not expect friendly smiles.

Proxemics (use of space)

Russians stand close when talking.

Haptics (use of touch)

Russians are a demonstrative people, and public physical contact is common.  Hugging, backslapping, kissing on the cheeks, and other  gestures are common among friends or acquaintances and between members of the same sex.

Kissing is considered nonverbal communication.  People kiss when they miss people and to show affection.  In weddings, when people are toasting the groom and bride, they say “Gor'ko!”; it means the wine is bitter.  Then, the newlywed couple must kiss each other.  They must stand up and kiss each other for as long as possible, and all the guests count "1, 2, 3, 4 , 5..." while they are kissing.  If the couple was not kissing long enough, the guests can insist that the wine is still bitter, and request another kiss.  This happens following almost every toast, so the couple kisses a lot throughout the wedding.

Chronemics (use of time)

Since Russia is a collectivist, high-context culture, they tend to be more of a p-time culture rather than a m-time culture.  This means that p-time, or "polychronic" cultures believe that many things can be done at  one time whereas, m-time, or "monochronic" cultures seem to believe that only one activity can be done at a time.  Polychronic cultures, such as Russia, view time as less tangible than m-time, place little emphasis on scheduling, put stress on the involvement and completion of tasks instead of on their schedules, and their relationships take priority over everything else.

The previous information was gathered from these two sources:

Neulip, James W. Intercultural Communication.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

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  May 8, 2003