Sometimes all you need to do is listen
So, I listened to her and that’s what she said...
“We are a team of five - Two Germans, Two Chinese and an Israeli. We have been working together for a long time meeting twice a month most of these years, juggling productivity, efficiency of project work while supporting each other through the birth of children of one of our team members, cancer treatments of another, COVID challenges world wide. After all these years together, it felt like a place where work and friendship meet.
And then October 7th happened. We had a tentative meeting schedule for the third week of October, which we set way in advance. Since October 7th I heard nothing from my colleagues - not even a check-in note until the day of the meeting. We often start our meeting with a brief personal check in but this time it seems like everyone was invested in talking about everything under the sun but about the war that clearly impacted me and my family. I caught myself rolling my eyes so many times, I decided to take myself off the video feed. I felt invisible anyway at this moment.
I completed the portion of the work I volunteered to take on for our next session and sent it to the team. When the day of our next meeting in early November arrived, I decided I had no emotional energy in me to join the team meeting. I sent them a note I will need to miss the meeting. It was the only meeting in our six-year collaboration I have ever missed. Still no word from any of my team members.
When I joined our last team meeting on late November we started the meeting, as we often did, with a personal check in. Our project leader asked how everyone is doing and I just shook my head to indicate not good. I am not Ok, I said out loud, but I have not been OK since October 7th. There were a few seconds of silence on the line. And then he jumped in to say - I have been thinking a lot about you these past months, I know you are Israeli and I assumed you were deeply impacted by the war, but I wasn't sure what to say or how to start a conversation about it. I was worried asking about it directly will be challenging for you and might inflict more pain. I was waiting for you to say something to signal to us that its Ok to talk about it... Others jumped in quickly and shared their concerns and care.
I must admit it was an eye-opening experience. I originally assumed they were trying their best to avoid a political conversation. I was deeply disappointed by people who I considered to be friends who ignored my pain for weeks and expected me to show up all smiles, bring my talents and expertise to do the work we are gathered to accomplish. But those were not generous assumptions I was making about them, were they?
This critical moment of our team conversation helped me notice that I may not have been invisible or unimportant, but that I had a role to play in expressing my pain and inviting them to have this conversation so they could bring their supportive colleague selves to life. Some people do it well without this invitation - and some may need us to take that extra step to help them notice and respond to us more compassionately.”
By cultivating a culture of care, empathy, and effective communication, we can ensure functional continuity and maintain the resilience of global teams and organizations, even in the face of unprecedented challenges.
For that sake, Yair Paz and I designed a webinar relevant to the hectic need of our clients in order to equip global leaders and team members with the essential knowledge, skills and tools to effectively collaborate with their Israeli counterparts in the face of adversity.
Join us as we delve into the unique cultural dynamics that shape Israeli behavior, communication styles, and approaches to work. We'll explore tools for fostering empathy and effectively communicating with Israelis these days in order to ensure functional continuity of global teams in terms of crisis and uncertainty.
This special webinar is an inhouse 1.5 session for global teams working with Israelis.
Would you like to invite us to your organization? Here is some more information.