Israeli business culture

Dos and Don'ts

Israeli businessmen are motivated and ambitious. Their schedules are busy, but they mix business with pleasure. Since many Israelis will respond more to a relationship-oriented meeting, you should treat your Israeli business partners more like friends than clients.

The atmosphere of Israeli businesses and business meetings is fairly relaxed. Israeli business employees wear business casual, i.e. a lot of open-collared long sleeve shirts and trousers. Women wear dresses or blouses and trousers.

As a foreigner, you will be expected to have a higher standard of dress than your partner. Go to the first meeting in a suit and tie (or a formal blouse and skirt as the case may be). If you spend a lot of time in Israel, you may dress more casually over time.

In general, Israelis are direct and state their opinions. You should try to do the same. Israelis will trust you more if you are honest and direct, and you should avoid using understatement and subtleties. Make direct eye contact with your Israeli business partners. If you do not, they will think you are untrustworthy.

Be aware of your business partner's title. Not all Israelis are sensitive to their titles or insist that you use titles when addressing them. However, be polite and use titles when you first meet your partner. If your partner thinks it is appropriate, he will invite you to use his first name.

Body language and personal space

Shaking hands is the normal way of greeting an Israeli business contact. If possible, avoid shaking with your left hand, as the left-hand is considered unclean (particularly by Arab Israelis).

Personal space is much smaller in Israel than in North American and Asia, and Israelis will put a hand on your shoulder or your arm during conversation. If an Israeli invades your personal space, stay where you are. Taking a step back will offend your partner.

How to address religious women

Many Israeli women work professionally, and in most cases, you will find gender-equality in your work environment. However, there are some businessmen who are very religious (e.g. Jewish or Muslim). If a business partner or a co-worker is married and invites you to his home, you should address his wife only if your partner introduces her. © 2003-2023 Just Landed