Israeli Culture

Communication

Verbal

  • Direct Communication: Israelis usually communicate in a , straightforward and informal manner. This is in part due to the grammatical structure of Hebrew, which is quite a language. The communication style of Israelis is known as ‘dugriut’, which refers to a forthright and unapologetic directness in communicating. Interests and desires are often expressed through phrases such as “I want...” or “I need…” as opposed to phrases such as “would it be possible...”.
  • Communication Style: Israelis tend to communicate in an expressive manner, accompanied with many hand gestures. They often speak quite loudly and at a fast pace, which can give an impression that they are yelling or irritated. However, it is most likely their usual tone of communicating. Israelis also tend to have overlapping speech patterns, which means one person may speak over someone before they have finished their point. Therefore, interruptions during conversation are common.
  • Emotions: Israelis can become quite emotive when communicating, particularly on topics they are passionate about. Anger in Israeli communication patterns often represents passion, and in some situations, people can become heated or impassioned quickly. If this occurs in a public setting, bystanders often make an effort to calm the situation.
  • Humour: Humour features quite prominently in Israeli communication. A common aspect of Israeli humour is chizbat, which refers to humorous anecdotes and tall tales.
  • Yiddish: Among Ashkenazi Jews, some popular phrases and slang come from the Yiddish language. For instance, the common word ‘nu’ is used to urge someone to hurry up or get to a point when speaking indirectly (e.g. ‘nu, what are we waiting for?’).


Non-Verbal

  • Physical Contact: Israelis may lightly touch or tap their counterpart while speaking. Contact between men is quite common as a sign of friendship and affection. Some common examples include a light punch on the arm or throwing one’s arm around their counterpart’s shoulders. Religiously observant Israelis usually avoid physical contact with the opposite gender.
  • Personal Space: Israelis usually stand less than an arm’s distance from one another while talking. It can be considered rude to back away from someone while they are speaking. Among religiously observant men and women, it is more common to stand farther apart. However, it is common for people to stand very close together in public spaces, such as supermarket queues.
  • Eye Contact:  eye contact is customarily expected and reflects a sense of interest and respect in the person. Some women who are religiously observant may divert their gaze when speaking to someone of the opposite gender.
  • Gestures: Gestures are very common in Israeli communication. People often ‘talk with their hands’ and seem quite lively. They may animate their whole body when emphasising or expressing a particular point.

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