A few business etiquette tips and tricks
Proper AttireAlways wear clothes that make you the most comfortable.
As it is more common to dress business casual in Israel, most Israelis respect and even appreciate when foreigners dress in a formal suit and tie, just as they would in their own country. In fact, dressing down to fit into the typical Israeli attire creates confusion and may eliminate the possibility of making a noticeable (and attractive) first impression. After the first impression, it is acceptable to dress more casually, such as leaving your tie behind or getting rid of the heavy jacket.
When conducting business with religious business partners, it is advised for women to wear more conservative clothing.
Gestures & Facial ExpressionsIn business, Israelis usually form close-knit, collaborative business groups, which essentially eliminate the concept of any type of business hierarchy. With that said, everyone on the team equally voices their opinion, which may allow for more flexibility in negotiations and constant modifications in a developing business plan.
Sometimes common gestures, such as handshakes, are not offered right off the bat. However, you should not take offense to this and still offer your own handshake as a polite gesture.
Israelis often prefer to be addressed by their first name, and it is encouraged to reciprocate this request. This is an easy way to form a quick, initial bond and give the relationship a more intimate, honest approach.
Schedules & DeadlinesIsraelis are well-known for their informal planning, resulting in invitations to impromptu meetings and aiming to close deals quickly. Being flexible (and accommodating in recommended Tel Aviv hotel) in your schedule is something that will not go unnoticed, especially for future business plans.
ReligionWhen working with religious business partners, you should refrain from physical contact, especially with the opposite sex. You can simply greet them with a verbal queue and a smile or head nod. Let them make the first move.
It is also important to note that workdays are Sunday through Thursday, usually between 9AM to 5/6PM. The Sabbath (sundown on Friday until one hour past sundown on Saturday) is a nationally observed holiday and nearly all business comes to a halt.
If you are hosting an event involving food or drink, it is customary to ask Israelis if they have special dietary requirements (or observe Kashrut) so you can plan accordingly.
Language & Verbal QueuesInternational business in Israel is conducted in English, while local business is conducted in Hebrew. It may be a good idea to get a language interpreter to avoid language barriers or to eliminate any confusion when conducting business.
As Israelis are known to be energetic and expressive, you should not be offended or frightened when they raise their voice or gesture with their hands; it’s a cultural norm.
Although gregarious by nature, Israelis are still conservative about personal aspects of their life. Be sensitive to such topics like army service, political views, etc.