Foreigners are often perplexed by the Russian psyche. Many books have been dedicated to ‘the Russian mentality,’ and it’s common to hear discourses on the ‘mystery of the Russian soul.' The real reason for this gap in understanding is Russians' lack of communicative skills, which stems from both historial circumstances and the system of education.
Unfortunately, Russia still has very few professionals in the field of communications. Historically this void began with Bolshevik rejection of such disciplines as logic, rhetoric and ethics in the field of education for ideological reasons. But it is these fields that teach people to form and articulate their point of view, to influence others’ opinions respectfully. Hence the lack of communication.
I also feel that Russian people are very closed by nature. They rarely articulate what they are genuinely thinking or what they want. They’re not particularly considerate to each other, not sure about tomorrow and stifled with various difficulties. Modern Russians face many obstacles to living what they consider to be a normal life, and this leads them to be engulfed in a constant internal psychological conflict. They are never satisfied because they always want to obtain something more. Usually this is a material object, the pursuit of which orients people away from healthy communication with each other.
Another problem is that Russians often feel others have different – specifically, simpler – problems than they do and are therefore not interested in them. This is a major misconception that leads to a lack of communication and understanding with other cultures. This problem must be overcome if Russians are to learn to solve problems together with other cultures in our increasingly interconnected world.
Elena Zaretskaya, a Doctor of Philology, is head of the Department of Social Sciences at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration and professor and creator of the “communicative education in Russia” concept and other communication techniques.
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