Talking "Dugri"

about Israeli straightforwardness and directness and what it means to us

March 2019

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I am a Sabra. An Israeli born and raised. I was fortunate to travel the world, already as a child with my parents, and since I can remember, traveling the world was my biggest and longest dream. I’m doing ok so far, travelled to over 29 countries both for business and for pleasure.

And whenever I am interacting with non-Israelis, I know this. I feel this.
We have a special trait. A unique characteristic that distinguishes us, a behavioural difference that makes Israelis who we are. Of course there are other things that define us, and saying this of course understands the generalisation in the saying, I know that not all Israelis are the same, but this trait is something we are world renowned for.

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Photo taken by Dana Friedlander for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.

Dugri” – We speak our mind. Straightforward talk with no apologies. We say what we think.
For better or for worse… you will know exactly what we think. (The word “Dugri” comes from Arabic – meaning straight)
Personally, I am an opinionated person, I speak and write my mind on many things, I had been that way since forever, but before I begun interacting with the world on a daily basis, about 20 years ago, I had not realized that this was even a “thing”…. Because here in Israel many of us are like that.

And that’s when I started to realise, it’s a cultural thing. We are just different. We are raised like that. I can go on for pages about the reasons why I believe this difference has evolved here in Israel in the very short 70 years of existence. how the young man and woman who came here to rebuild an ancient nation’s homeland, following persecution and holocaust and suffering, wanted to shed off themselves any habits or etiquette of what they had perceived, of belonging to the old world they were running away from, the world who did not want them. I can talk about how the new Israeli, who worked the land, who built Kibbutzim, who was fiercely brave and informal did not see the need for, what they perceived, as false etiquette and unnecessary manners,
but I won’t do all that. I will not write about all that here.

What I will write about are very personal pros and cons of speaking “Dugri”: from a more personal point of view.

Pros:
1. Honesty IS the best policy – I know honesty can be scary, what if they make fun of me? What if they will not agree with me? What if they will be offended by my words? But over the years I learnt that when you are honest and say what you truly feel or think it is the most genuine form of speech, and others react to your ideas from an identifying place, they can truly see things through your eyes for a minute – and that helps in bridging the sides and find a mutual path forward.

2. You feel good and true to yourself – less inner conflicts, less self-doubt later: have I done the right thing? You stay true to you and that straitens your back and you can walk tall and proud in the world.

3. No misunderstandings – simple messaging, say what you think and the whole process gets shorter and more effective. No going back and forth, much less explaining, less mistakes.

Photo taken by Dana Friedlander for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.

Cons:

  1. The world often perceives us as being rude – other people from other places just think that we have no manners, that we are rude and aggressive and even blunt. They see it as Hutzpah – the famous Israeli hutzpah – they many a times are put off by this kind of talk and might be unwilling to become our friends or do business with us. Although we truly mean no harm, it might cause problems.
  2. Talking “Dugri” does not leave much room for changing our mind – when we say what we truly mean, no masks, no embellishments – it is much more difficult in a conversation to go back on our standpoints or change our views. And sometimes we need that way out…
  3. Leaves us in a disadvantage in negotiations – when speaking “Dugri” and stating our thoughts and stances in a very direct and clear way, we are often using all our cards too early in the game… and therefore have less room to maneuver in a negotiation process.

We speak our mind. We speak “Dugri” for better and for worse. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. I know it is not a character trait unique to Israelis, and millions of people in the world do it, but we do it perhaps more as a collective and are famous or infamous (depends on who is doing the talking) for it.

For us it’s just a way of life. No apologies.

This is who we are – and we are proud of it!!!

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