Etiquettes & Customs in Ukraine

By on March 13, 2013
Ukraine Customs

Etiquette and Customs

Meeting and Greeting

– The typical greeting is a warm, firm handshake, maintaining direct eye contact, and repeating your name.
– When female friends meet, they kiss on the cheek three times, starting with the left and then alternating, while close male friends may pat each other on the back and hug.
– Ukrainian names are comprised of:
> First name, which is the person’s given name.
> Middle name, which is a patronymic or a version of the father’s first name formed by adding “-vich” or “-ovich” for a male and “-avna”, “-ovna”, or “ivna” for a female. The son of Alexi would have a patronymic of Alexivich while the daughter’s patronymic would be Alexivina.
>Last name, which is the family or surname.
– In formal situations, people use all three names.
– Friends and close acquaintances may refer to each other by their first name and patronymic.

Ukraine culture

Gift Giving Etiquette

1. Ukrainians exchange gifts with family and close friends on birthdays and the Orthodox Christmas.
2. ‘Name days’ (birth date of the saint after whom a person was named) are also celebrated rather than birthdays by some.
3.  Gifts need not to be expensive. It is the act of giving the gift that is important, since it symbolizes friendship.
4.  If you are invited to a Ukrainian’s home for a meal it is polite to bring something; cake, flowers, or a bottle of imported liquor.
5. Flowers should only be given in odd numbers and avoid yellow flowers.
6. Gifts are generally not opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

– Table manners are generally casual.
– The more formal the occasion, the stricter the protocol.
– When in doubt, watch what others are doing and emulate their behaviour.
– Table manners are Continental, i.e. hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
– Do not begin eating until the host invites you to start.
– Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
– The oldest or most honoured guest is served first.
– Try everything. Refusing a dish is considered very rude.
– You will often be urged to take second helpings.
– Toasting is part of the culture and generally occurs whenever three or more people share a meal.
– Ukrainians are suspicious of people who do not drink. Having said that, it is better to offer a medical condition as an excuse rather than starting to drink and failing to keep pace with your Ukrainian counterparts.
– A common toast is “za vashe zdorovya”, which means “to your health”.
– The host gives the first toast, usually to the guest of honor, who may return the toast later in the meal.
– Most toasts are given with vodka. You need not finish the glass, but you must take a sip.
– Do not clink your glass with others during a toast if you are not drinking an alcoholic beverage.
– Glasses are filled no more than two-thirds full.
– Never refill your own glass.
– Do not pour wine backhanded.
– An open bottle must be finished.
– Empty bottles are not left on the table. They are immediately removed.

Business Etiquette and Protocol

Meeting and Greeting

– Ukrainian business people are generally less formal than in many other countries.
– Shake hands with everyone upon arriving and leaving.
– Handshakes are quite firm.
– Maintain eye contact during the greeting.
– It is common to repeat your name while shaking hands.
– Academic and professional titles are commonly used with the surname.
– If someone does not have an academic or professional title, use the honorific “Pan” for a man and “Pani” for a woman with the surname.
– Most business colleagues refer to each other by first name and patronymic. (Middle name which is a version of the father’s first name formed by adding “-vich” or “-ovich” for a male and “-avna”, “-ovna”, or “ivna” for a female.)
– When using someone’s complete name, including the patronymic, the honorific title is not used.
– The way someone is addressed often depends upon the situation. Titles and surnames are used in meetings and may give way to first names or diminutives in social situations.
– Business cards are exchanged without ritual.
– Have one side of your business card translated into Ukrainian.
– Include advanced university degrees on your business card.
– Present your card so the Ukrainian side faces the recipient.
– If someone does not have a business card, note the information in your appointment book or portfolio.

Communication Style

Although direct communication is valued in the Ukraine, there is also an emphasis placed on delivering information in a sensitive manner. Often, the level of the relationship will determine how direct someone is. Obviously the newer a relationship, the more cautious people will be. Once a relationship has developed, people will then feel more comfortable speaking frankly.

Business Meetings

Meeting schedules are not very rigid in the Ukraine. There may be an agenda, but it serves as a guideline for the discussion and acts as a springboard to other related business ideas. As relationships are highly important in this culture, there may be some time in the meeting devoted to non-business discussions. Engage in small talk and wait for the other party to change the subject to business.

credit: kwintessential

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