Thursday, September 23, 2010

Emotional Intelligence

From Wikipedia, "Emotional intelligence (EI) describes the ability, capacity, skill or, in the case of the trait EI model, a self-perceived grand ability to identify, assess, manage and control the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups.

I am finding that functioning in Israel can take a fair amount of emotional intelligence, and emotional energy. 

A few days before we moved into our apartment, the owners called us and tried to change the terms of our agreement by offering to leave the TV for 3,000 shekels (about $800).  As this was the very first item we asked to be left during our initial meeting with the owners back in May, we were more than a bit peeved.  After reminding her that we were 100% certain that they had agreed to leave it along with the patio furniture, she let it go.  But needless to say, everything in Israel seems to be a negotiation on a good day, a battle on most others.

My first visit to the shuk hakarmel (the tel aviv market), resulted in my ability to catch one vendor trying to rip me off (he told a guy in hebrew 15 shekels for asparagus, then told me 20 in english).  When I told him to forget about it, and that I was irritated by his attempt to rip me off, he gave them to me for 12.  Who knows how many times I didn't catch someone trying to take advantage of me.  But my overall spend still seemed less than the grocery store for fruits and veggies, so here's hoping I did ok.
Mindless tasks in the U.S. take a high degree of attention and focus here.  Sometimes I get so tired of it I'd rather not go out and have to interact. 


  1. Reading your last reloed
    "emotional intelligence" might be an usefull way to look at it. I remember Bolivia as just a major culture challenge. Language is of course a big part of it and when you get functional in that you can relax some. There are key slang phrases that get you immediate respect or a sort of acceptance. Then they know you are not so easy to cheat or fool and they know also that you will be around and will be spending with the folks that treat you right. There is also a kind of buddy system where you buy from your special vendor of certain things and they get pissed if you patronize the competition. It helps if they can't see you doing it but it also matters that they DO give you some special treatment. I'm sure Israel is just like this. It is a kind of arch-typical middle axis behavior. Everybody wants to be "owed a favor" or some such rationalization. There is an element of "community" in a sort of "us vs them" way. It can be challenging and you easily screw it up at times but eventually you can sort of fall into a rut and get along more easily. A lot of it is just familiarity and that requires language too. I hope yours is going OK. Make Dan help you all he can but find someone else too. It will work better. I would bet you will get it faster and better than I did. Too bad you aren't learning a more generally useful language but then for your connections, maybe you are. Keep up the good writing. That could become a valuable asset somehow. Can you get published in an english language device?
    Hi to Dan.
    Any suggestions/ comments on Ford electrics or hybrids?

  2. This definitely resonates. And I suppose it creates challenges for me because I am not middle axis, nor am I used to living in a middle axis culture.

    For anyone interested in learning more about the cultural distinctions of early/middle/late axis

    I do find that I am "forcing" myself to focus on learning Hebrew. I can't honestly say I am enjoying it. I enjoy parts of it, but it is more of a struggle than a joy (as compared to classes in psychology/sociology, for instance).