Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PART THREE. Business in Israel. Number Two. Business Interruptus.


There is something unique about doing business in Israel.

It's a cultural reality. There is nothing like it in America-- it's called, business interruptus.

Ever hear of that?


Well, if you want to be a success in Israel, don't fall asleep on me here.  I'm going to teach you this stuff, and then you're going to have make some decisions. So be ready for my questions.


In America,  let's say you're in the doctor's office, talking to the doctor about that disease you've picked up in Mexico that you really are embarrassed about. Well, in America, once you're in the doctor's office, and the door is closed, you're alone, in private, and you can talk. Right? You can legally take off your clothes, in private, with the doc, right?

Well, same thing happens in Israel.

Well, almost the same thing.

You see, here, we have  "interruptus."

For example, I am sitting, discussing my medical history with my new Israeli doctor when, suddenly, the examining room door opens, and another patient comes in, and starts a brief conversation, in Hebrew, with the doctor--about a medical problem--his own.

Nobody flinches. The interruption lasts perhaps 15 seconds, and then our own conversation continues.

So. Here's your first test question: what if you had been in this room,  naked, getting poked and probed. What then? You  just look at each other and smile?

Is there a social protocol here? You know, what does one say? "Oh, wow, what a nice looking've got?"

Shloimy, are you paying attention to this?

Second case: At the lawyer's, the same thing happens. I'm paying my lawyer  by the hour, and during one of our consultations, another client comes right into the meeting, hands the lawyer a paper, and starts to complain about his legal problem.

Once again, nobody flinches. This is normal.

But again, is there some kind of social protocol here? What if this were you, Shloimy? Do you listen to this man's legal trouble (since he is, after all, using time you have paid for) and then tell him, "You know, my brother-in-law had the same problem you have. He's in jail now". Can you do that?

Third case: at the bank, it's the same thing. We're talking to a banker at her desk.  She's filling out paperwork, when her cell phone rings. It's her daughter's school. They are having a parent's night next week. Is she interested?

She has a conversation and, when finished, goes back to our paperwork.

In fact, she never stopped doing our paperwork, during her conversation.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? How many errors are directly attributable to such behavior.

At any rate, the same question comes up here, too: is there some kind of social protocol here? I mean, is it polite, since, after all, she took the personal call both on my time and right in front of me--I'm sitting there thinking, am I expected to comment to her on her decision to attend or not attend?

I mean, since I've been made privy to the discussion, is it all right for me to say, "you know, I think you should go to that parent's night. I've heard that parents who do not attend such meetings are directly responsible for the high pregnancy rate in our schools". Can I do that?

Shloimy, wake up!

Business Interruptus.

This is Israel, Shloimy, not America.

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