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Differences Between Israeli and American Culture

by Touchpoint Israel

If you are preparing to travel to Israel anytime soon, you are about to experience many new things– new languages, foods, even a new time zone! But what about culture differences? As soon as you cross a country”s border, you must be careful about how you present yourself and interact with others. The more aware and prepared you are for these differences, the smoother your trip will be. Below are some differences you may want to consider as you step off that plane:

1. Formality

The first, and possibly largest difference between Israelis and Americans is the level of formality. Americans speak and interact much more formally when compared to an Israeli”s free-flowing, informal interactions. Americans interact very differently depending on the recipient and even customize each message differently for different audiences. You wouldn’t talk to your boss the same way you talk to your annoying little brother, would you? In Israel, they would! To Israelis, they interact with everyone in the exact same way. The Israeli culture is very informal and therefore does not have the same hierarchical structure that America has. This difference in communication can sometimes create a perceived communication barrier between Americans and Israeli, when really it is just a difference in mannerisms.

2. Direct Communication

Along with the formality, Israelis are often much more direct and confrontational than Americans. If you ask an Israeli a question, they will be honest, and in exchange, expect the same. Americans are often known to “sugar-coat” things, but that isn”t the case in Israel. Israelis will also directly confront anyone when there is an issue or confusion with anything. This may seem abrasive at first, but once you understand that it is just part of the culture and isn”t personal, you can relax and enjoy the freedom of honest communication without fear of offending your new Israeli friends. There is something refreshing about the open and direct style of Israeli communication. Just consider yourself part of the family and join in!

3. Negotiation

Similar to many other countries, Israel is a country that loves to negotiate! When you go to markets, it is actually <em>expected</em> that you negotiate the price–not just accept the first price you are told. Because of that very few things are actually labeled with a price tag. Their prices are almost entirely subjective and sometimes tourists are given higher prices than locals, unless you know that it is alright to negotiate. So when you visit a market, do your best to blend in with the crowd and don”t be afraid to bargain with almost every person you encounter.

These few tips will help you gain confidence when traveling abroad to Israel and overall better prepare you for you exciting journey!


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