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  • Some features of national character of Ukrainians


    Article about Ukrainian character.

    It took me some time to get ready to speak about this topic. Being inside the system, it is very difficult to see the system. Fortunately, I spoke with quite a number of people from outside and recent events also helped me grow understanding who are Ukrainians, how we are different from other nations and what it takes to do business with us.

    So here is the analysis based on my feelings and understanding:

    1.      We are abundant and generous

    As you know, we are located in a very good climate with excellent soil. We have hot summers, cold winters, green and tender springs and beautiful golden autumns. We have mountains, lakes, seas, steeps, rivers, hills, forests and a lot of greenery covering all this beauty.

    We live in abundance, our nature is rich. Maybe this is why we are very generous. When a guest comes into a Ukrainian house, he can count that the best food will be taken out. It is a shame for a hostess not to try to give everything she has to a guest. Sometimes we go extra mile to be so satisfying, this is why inviting guests is sometimes a hard job and people do it not so often. But once we get a guest inside our house, be sure, that you will have everything and even take some of the food with you, which is also quite common.

    2.      We are chaotic and need good management to be effective

    Indeed, despite the abundance, we lack good managers. We are emotional, altruistic, with very good brains and scientific background, but very often we miss some practical and business skills to put these things together. However, once a team of good managers gets over, we can do miracles. It is probably not for nothing we became a powerful state in middle ages, when we invited vikings to help us manage the country.

    3.      We are very often not keeping our word and take care about our own needs before anything else, but sometimes show the high spirit altruistic behaviour as well

    This is the feature I learned from people from other countries. They say Ukrainians are quite often not keeping the word (which is true, we are chaotic and emotional and unfortunately can change words same way we change our mind) and also the level of corruption in our country shows we are also using tempting opportunities when they occur. Our economy is indeed a chaos at the moment, where everybody wants to get a piece, using his own powers. It is sad to see, but no point to hide. We indeed have a problem with that, but we are learning. Not all Ukrainians are like that and more and more representatives of the new generation not only appear in our society, but also start getting powers. We have a hope our system will change and our people become more true to what they say and follow the rule of not stealing, neither from people, nor from the state.

    The level and current number of altruistic organizations and volunteering shows the best heights of our spirit. Our dignity revolution was also a good example of the level of spirit of Ukrainian nation, and we indeed have very powerful processes in our society underway.

    4.      We are clever, but only learn to be practical

    Did you know that first computer in USSR was created in Ukraine? And that we had scientific centers that were busy doing spaceships? We had a lot of fundamental research centers in various industries, our nation gave birth to a lot of talented scientists, artists, sportsmen, businessmen and other outstanding individuals.

    Here is a list of people with Ukrainian roots, known in the West:

    • Stephen ‘Woz’ Wozniak (American computer engineer and programmer of Ukrainian origin, who co-founded Apple Computer, Co),
    • Max Levchin (Co-founder of PayPal. Ukraine-born computer scientist and entrepreneur, he moved to the United States with his family, under a political asylum, and settled in Chicago, Illinois in 1991.),
    • Andy Warhol (Andrew Warhola — American painter of Ukrainian origin, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art),
    • Chuck Palahniuk (Ukrainian-American novelist, best known as the author of the award-winning novel Fight Club),
    • Borys Hrabovsky (Soviet engineer who invented the fully electronic TV transmitting tube and demonstrated it in 1928 (Philo Farnsworth had demonstrated his in 1927).),
    • Ihor Sikorsky (American with Ukrainian origin, he is a pioneer of aviation in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. After emigrating to the United States in 1919, Sikorsky developed the first of Pan American Airways’ ocean-conquering flying boats in the 1930s and the world’s first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.),
    • Evheny Paton (Ukrainian and Soviet engineer, Eugeny Paton was a pioneer researcher of the new joining – welding technology for the materials.),
    • Simon Kuznets (American economist of Ukrainian origin, who won the 1971 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.),
    • Georges Charpak (Ukrainian-born french physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1992.),
    • Serhiy Korolov (founder of practical cosmonautics),
    • Sigmund Freud,
    • Leopold von Sacher-Masoch,
    • David Duchovny,
    • Bob Dylan,

    and many many others (, ). At the same time, despite our advances in fundamental sciences, business success was achieved mostly by Ukrainians that moved to other countries, strangely enough. I believe this happened because of the Soviet communist system, that didn’t allow to develop these qualities. Right now we have a lot of smart people learning basic things about business, understanding and succeeding more and more.

    5.      We have a very traditionalist and quite closed culture, despite our belief of different

    The mass of our nation does not speak foreign languages (yet) and has not travelled much. The exception is our IT part of society and also the richest and most educated layer, which is also quite significant. However, in the globalized world it could be a special pleasure to come to our villages and see our old women and eat some simple natural country food, trying to find mutual language with the help of body language or some basic Russian/Ukrainian/English. Preferably accompanied by somebody local with good English to ensure good understanding.

    6.      We are indeed a young nation, with great history, that emerged on pieces of other empires

    We have our own history of Kiev Rus, but then we were nation, centuries under rule of various Empires – Lithuanian, Polish, Hungarian-Austrian and Russian. Officially, we have only 23 years of independence, so we are quite young as a country, but quite old as a nation and culture.

    Culture will be probably a next separate article, it is too big topic to fit here.

    And here is the summary of our character in two words – we are clever and hardworking, chaotic and cunning, altruistic and greedy at times. Probably as any nation and personality, have good and bad sides. For a smart businessman our country has a lot to offer – human and natural resources, unique geographical position, cultural and educational level. Want to make best use of doing business with Ukraine and using all these abundant resources smartly – contact me to discuss.

    I hope you enjoyed. If this article made you think about features of your national character – please share in the comments. The discussion is very welcome.

    Faithfully yours,
    Nataly Veremeeva