Good Manners International: Australia

Last time, we gave you some insight into the key business manners in China. Today, we show you how to best behave on your next business trip to a very diverse continent: Australia.

Home to nearly five million immigrants from 160 countries, Australia is extremely rich in cultural diversity. Australians, or “Aussies,” are particularly known for their easy-going lifestyle, down-to-earth mentality and open-minded personalities. 

Australia covers an enormous geographic surface, yet it has a relatively small population. With roughly the same size as all US states, it has a population only half the size of that of California. Constituting the sixth-largest country in the world by land mass, its comparatively small population is concentrated in the highly urbanized east.

Australia is officially ranked one of the best places to live worldwide regarding income, healthcare and civil rights. Classified as one of the wealthiest countries including the world’s 12th largest economy, the Australian business world is further constantly thriving.

As a result, the following provides an overview of the Australian business etiquette and customs to help you make the best possible impression during your next business encounter with clients and colleagues in Australia.

Business Communication and Relationships

Australians are very matter of fact when it comes to making business, so they do not need long-standing personal relationships before going into business with someone.

People are further very direct in their communication. They do not mind saying ‘no’, so their answers will mostly be clear and straightforward. And they expect this in return as well. So this means Australians appreciate brevity and tend to be put off by too much detail. There is frequently a great sense of humor involved as well – at times even self-deprecating – in communication.

Common topics for initial small-talk include the weather and sports (particularly Australian Football AFL in Victoria, and National Rugby League NRL in New South Wales and Queensland). After all, anything related to Australia in a positive way makes a great start to a conversation.

Australians greatly appreciate one important value: modesty. So try not to oversell your company and avoid aggressive sales techniques. Be factual, friendly and to the point, whilst avoiding self-importance. Aussies tend to show modesty as much as they appreciate it. Thus, a common behavior for many Australians is to downplay their own success.

Negotiating and Decision Making

If you find yourself challenged to a controversial discussion during a meeting, don’t take it personal. Australian people often find debates entertaining and like to start them by making provocative comments. It’s always good to respond with humor!

Negotiations generally happen quickly, whilst bargaining is unusual. So your Australian business partners will expect your original proposal to have a small margin for negotiation only.

Decision making could be a little slower than you might be used to, since the culture of making business in Australia is rather collaborative. Top management will usually consult subordinates. Therefore it is recommended to avoid rushing the decision, while patience goes a long way.

Most importantly, Australians find it important to get along with everyone, since you never know when your paths may cross again. This contributes to a win-win negotiation style, because having everyone leave with a positive impression might just help make that second business encounter a very successful one.

Business Meals

When it comes to inviting a business partner out for lunch or dinner, it is fairly common for the host to reconfirm the date with you in advance. So you can expect a call in the morning of the lunch or dinner, or the day before if you’ve scheduled breakfast.

On the day, you should arrive five or ten minutes early to leave a good impression from the start. When you arrive at the restaurant and your host is not there yet, wait in the lobby instead of heading straight to the table.

The person inviting usually does the paying. If someone invites you to lunch and you receive the check on the table, avoid grabbing it. Give your host the opportunity to pick up the check and deal with it. In Australia, tips are usually between 10 to 15 percent.

Business Dress Code

The business dress code tends to be relatively conservative in the areas of Melbourne and Sydney. So men are recommended to wear a dark colored, classic business suit, and women a smart dress or a business suit. In Brisbane or other tropical areas men may wear shirts, ties and Bermuda shorts – obviously depending on the job function and company culture. In case of doubt: you can never go wrong with a decent suit!

We hope that this gave you some useful ideas on how to present yourself and make the best possible impression on your next business visit to Australia!

For further information on our business in Australia, go ahead and visit our SELLBYTEL Group website.

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