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Israel: Negotiation Styles

by Goinglobal

In Israel, business is done at a dynamic and quick pace. However, negotiations may take longer than expected. Arab Israelis prefer to do business with people they know and to develop relationships before conducting business deals. Jewish Israelis value rapport between partners to a lesser extent, and this fact may speed up closing a deal.

Business is conducted at a fairly dynamic and quick pace, but negotiations can take longer than expected. Business relationships develop both between companies and individuals. While Arab Israelis prefer to do business with people they know well and to develop long-term bonds prior to conducting business deals, Jewish Israelis value rapport between partners to a much lesser extent, which may speed up closing a deal.

Meetings typically begin with a little bit of small talk. Generally, Arab Israelis prefer asking about colleagues’ families or health, while Jewish Israelis prefer to talk about other personal and professional subjects. During typical negotiations, it is up to both parties to reach an equitable agreement. The buyer usually starts out in a superior position.

Jewish Israelis are direct and have no problem with saying ‘no,’ while Arab Israelis prefer to indicate ‘no’ in a less-direct manner — for example, an Arab negotiator may say something like, “We must look into this,” or “We will think about it.”

While Arab Israelis prefer long-term commitments at the end of negotiations, Jewish Israelis first look at short-term gains of the deal before considering long-term relationships and the competitive advantage of collaboration. Stay positive, friendly and persistent throughout the process.

When negotiating, Israelis weigh all possible positive and negative outcomes from their decisions, often to the point of over-analyzing every conceivable risk. This negotiating process can be characterized as wary and skeptical. Israeli businessmen are excellent negotiators, and significant time will be spent on exchange of information and bargaining over every aspect of a business deal. If hosting the negotiations, offer drinks and prepare snacks for long meetings. Offer your hand to shake to everyone except clearly religious attendees of the opposite sex. Often, English-language business cards are exchanged at the end of an introductory meeting.

Decisions will be made in a collaborative manner, after considering the merits of the specific deal. Business decisions conclude with a contract signed by both sides. Contracts outline the deal and many eventualities.


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