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Building Trust with Israelis

Quite a few global summits have taken place in Israel over the last few months: AWS (Amazon), IBM, Microsoft, Israel Mobile Summit, Tech & Law, Edtech and many more. Such summits bring numerous businesspeople from all over the world, some of them new to the Israeli market and others who have been collaborating with the Israeli business arena for many years.

Such summits are also an opportunity for building up business relationships, which are vital in the Israeli culture. In Israel, people want to get to know you before they do business with you. Israelis make friends fairly easily, and they trust their friends. They prefer not to do business with people they don’t trust. Therefore, they will take you out for dinner, ask you personal questions, and invest a lot of time and energy in becoming your true friend, if possible, and getting a feel for how trustworthy you are in the process.


Erin Meyer, author of “The Culture Map,” draws an important distinction in the business arena between people who trust with their head (‘cognitive trust’) and those who trust with their heart (‘affective trust ‘).


  • Cognitive trust is built on the self-confidence you sense in another person’s achievements, talents and consistency.  This is trust from the head.
  • Affective trust, on the other hand, develops from feelings of familiarity, sympathy or friendship.  This type of trust comes from the heart.


In Israel, people build trust from their hearts and are more “relationship-based,” meaning that they place the greatest importance on personal bonds rather than products, prices or any other logical factor. Trust is built through sharing personal feelings and information. Besides doing business with their friends, Israelis will do business with their friends’ friends. They’ll do business with nice people with whom they feel they communicate well. Using emotions and intuition in business is considered completely legitimate.

For international businesspeople arriving in Israel, I would recommend:

  • Sparing some time and effort for meals or social events. It’s important—and it’s good business—to build up long-term business relationships.
  • Using this quality time to build up personal connections and make friends with your local contacts, because it is vital to them and also bound to benefit you in more ways than one.


Another word about the need to build personal relationships in the Israeli business culture: let it be known to the Israelis’ credit that they form friendships quickly, in the here and now. And for all their emotionalism, they are also extremely practical and straightforward in both thought and action.

Remember: Trust is challenging to create and sustain, especially in the global business world. It is also one of the most essential qualities in any interpersonal relationship. That’s why building trust, and understanding what’s important to your business associates, customers, colleagues and vendors, is a sound investment.


For more information about OLM workshops and other services, past blogs or “Israeli Business Culture,” my bestselling book on Amazon, please browse the relevant pages on my website ( And always feel free to contact me with any question or request  at

OLM Consulting Founder

Osnat Lautman is a well-known intercultural expert and the author of the Amazon bestselling book ‘Israeli Business Culture’. Osnat is passionate about cultures, connecting humans and breaking through culture barriers. She created the ISRAELI™ model of Israeli business characteristics (Informal, Straightforward, Risk-Taking, Ambitious, Entrepreneurial, Loud, Improvisational) to reveal the foundations of the Israeli innovative culture. Osnat supports many organizations and individuals to effectively connect and engage with Israelis, avoid misunderstanding and maximize the value of combining the innovative Israeli spirit into a multi culture environment.

Osnat is the founder of OLM Consulting and her customer include the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, The Jewish Agency, Verint, NYU Tel Aviv, the British Embassy, the Swedish Embassy, the Belgium Embassy, FIDF, Israel Defense Ministry delegation in New York, JCC Association, National Bank of Australia, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 888 Holdings, Corning, SkyVision, ObserveIT, MX1, Israel Export Institute, StartApp, Tel Aviv Municipality, and many others.

Osnat lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, from 2009 to 2013. During this time, she started her extensive research on the differences between Israeli and non-Israeli business cultures, including video interviews with businesspeople from numerous origins. The recorded discussions are incorporated into her lectures and workshops for demonstration purposes.

Osnat holds:
M.A in Social Science and Communications, Bar Ilan University, Israel
Certificate in Organizational Development, New York University, New York
Coach License from Co-Active Training Institute, Israel

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