Food plays a central role in our culture, and this extends to the business world as well.
For example, if one has a meeting with almost anyone, from your bank manager, to your accountant, you will more than likely be offered something to drink as soon as you enter the office. Business meetings, press conferences and Knesset meetings alike often take place alongside displays of sandwiches, soft drinks, and other vital bodily sustenance. God forbid you might just experience a tiny twinge of hunger…
Fast forward to certain offices abroad who do not have free beverages available 24/7 for their employees. The story of a young executive, who was sent by his company to an important business meeting in the USA, comes to mind. They flew him there and back specifically for this meeting. He was told what to wear, and it was drummed into him that under no circumstances could he arrive at the meeting late. He had to
get there on time, preferably with a few minutes to spare, with a suit and tie, and matching socks and shoes. He was told not to chew gum during the meeting, not to sms or answer his cell phone, not to take off his jacket before the others did and given lots of other relevant tips.
Our bright executive arrived at the meeting in time, suitably attired and ready to represent his company in a most befitting manner. However, in order to get to the meeting on time, he had skipped breakfast, and more importantly his morning fix of caffeine, presuming that coffee would be offered during the meeting.
In Israel, people often walk into a meeting with a coffee cup in their hand, or someone serves coffee to those present before the meeting gets underway, or a coffee corner is set up in the meeting room and everyone simply helps themselves. But this was not Israel. As the meeting progressed, our executive started feeling more and more edgy. When were they going to serve coffee? Should he excuse himself and perhaps go in search of the office coffee machine?
Should he offer to fetch coffee for everyone? Should he ask if they could have a coffee break? – but then after all it wasn’t his office and he wasn’t chairing the meeting, and perhaps this would be perceived wrongly, or heaven forbid interpreted as a sign of weakness…
Needless to say, our budding executive did not shine at this meeting; in fact he barely functioned at all. All he could think about was his caffeine fix! It was only after the scheduled midmorning coffee break, that our executive was able to regain his edge; but first impressions had already been made….
Cultures are different, as are business cultures. Being prepared beforehand can save face, money and valuable time.
Cross Cultural Communication
Finesse aims to assist Israeli businesses to bridge the cultural gap when dealing with foreign companies, and to enable foreign companies to understand the Israeli culture, prior to doing business in Israel. Finesse combines culture and language to offer you a seamless transition between cultures.