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Mind Your Manners: Managing Business Culture in the New Global Europe by John Mole

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Russia

When I first went to the Soviet Union on a package tour we were advised to take our own rubber plugs for the wash basin and bath. We came up with various explanations for the deficit—the inefficiency of central planning; a rubber shortage; theft; neglect of personal hygiene—whether as a cause or a consequence of the plug deficit. But whatever the explanation, it was sure to be condescending.

Some years later, a Russian business partner came to the UK. I asked him what struck him most. Top of the list was having separate hot and cold taps so far apart that you had to wash in either very cold or very hot water. Patiently I explained about putting the plug in the hole and filling the basin with water. He was horrified that we washed in stagnant ...

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