I have a new job! It is exciting yet scary. The idea of working for a new company and a whole new group of people is uncomfortable. I know this is true for everyone starting a new job, but how many people are hired over the phone never having met their coworkers in person? Maybe this happens to more people than I realize, but it is the first time it happened to me. At least social media tools like LinkedIn provided me a glimpse of my new coworkers.
The idea of adjusting to a new work environment made me reflect on the first days at my last company where I met a lot of new people. Each day new friends were made as coworkers bridged the gap and appeared on my Facebook or became my buddies to hang-out with on business trips. For some reason it seemed like it took a long time to get to know each person as well as a whole new culture.
Specifically, I am talking about Israeli culture. Working with a large team in Israel and numerous Israeli’s transplanted to the U. S., avoidance was impossible. At first I thought they were blunt (sometimes rudely so). I thought they had no feelings or were mean. They were very emotional and somehow right about everything (at least that was always their opening position). After spending more time with these blunt egomaniacs I discovered something surprising.
Under the harsh and often scary exterior were smart, caring, and compassionate people. Sure, they would disagree with you on, well, everything! I stopped counting the number of times I was enraged or irritated. In the end though, we seemed to just ‘get over it’. I can say that I always had to be at the top of my game, because this was the smartest group of people I had ever worked with. I loved working with them even when they felt like a thorn in my side. So at times, voices were definitely raised (as is normal with Israeli’s) but in the end it didn’t matter because we had a level of respect that transcended the yelling. Eventually yelling was not needed. Had they “Americanized” or had I “Israelized”?
I was sad about leaving my Israeli friends behind at my last company, but at the same time I felt fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn about a completely different culture. No one can take that away from me. From any job there are takeaways – bonuses, paychecks, a 401k and eventually maybe a retirement or severance check. I like to think that I left with something much more valuable – friendships and cultural understanding. I can only hope for as much at my next job.