Australia Business Etiquette

Posted by Michela Ferullo

Welcome to Australia, mate!

Officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia, this down-under country lies southeast of Asia, right between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Home to just under 24 million people, majority of the population resides in only a few major urban regions.  Australia is a very diverse and cultural society, with countless citizens originating from many different countries. Australians, also known as Aussies, are generally very relaxed, easy-going, and informal.  They principally speak English, but throw in their own mix of vocabulary, accents, and slang.  The country’s openness to global trade, flexible economy, and reduced business costs due to tax system changes, make it an optimal place for your future professional endeavors.

The Lowdown

  • When visiting on business, it is best to travel there between the months of March and November. This way you’ll avoid the crowds and chaos of tourist season, which can be seen during the remaining months of the year.
  • General office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., like many other countries.
  • The most popular form of transportation for commuters is taking their own personal vehicles.
  • Being punctual is important and it’s usually best to arrive a couple minutes early, especially for meetings.

Dressing Sharp

  • In business settings, men regularly wear dark colored suits, and the women typically dress similarly or in conservative dresses, skirts, and blouses.
  • In locations where climates are more tropically inclined, many business men will sport shirts, ties, and Bermuda shorts instead.
  • For women, try to avoid excessive accessorizing because it can be seen as being too glitzy and unprofessional.
  • The dress code of a business can vary drastically from very conservative to casual, depending on the industry you’re in. When visiting for business, it’s still best to go with traditional outfits to play it safe.

Make or Break Meetings

 

  • For greetings, a handshake and smile is appropriate. Australians are far less formal than others when it comes to introductions and salutations.
  • Due to their informal nature, Aussies prefer to use first names, even in business settings. Just to be safe, address other people with Mr., Mrs., and Miss when first meeting them.
  • Strong eye contact is encouraged and shows you are involved in the conversation or topic.
  • When speaking with someone make sure to keep a few feet of distance in between you. Australians like to respect personal space.

Dining Decorum

  • If you’re out for after work drinks or dinner with Australian business acquaintances or clients, they typically don’t welcome business talk over nice meals, so wait for them to bring up the subject first.
  • When out for drinks, make sure to pick up the tab when it is your time to, but never pay out of turn in the rotation.
  • If you ever find yourself exceptionally full after a meal, never use the term “I am stuffed.” This translates to saying you are pregnant in Australian slang.
  • The person extending the invitation for dinner is usually the one to pay.

Giving and Getting Gifts

  • Gift giving is not a common practice in Australian business relationships.
  • If invited to someone’s home, it is cordial to bring chocolate, wine or flowers as a small offering.
  • When visiting from abroad it is a kind gesture to bring a small present from your homeland. It is not recommended to bring foreign wine as a gift since Australia is known for producing an abundance of excellent wine.

Down to Business

  • Australians are very direct when it comes to business deals and are not afraid of directly and quickly telling you “No” to save time. In return, they appreciate straightforwardness.
  • On the other hand, decision making can be slow due to the fact that upper management will consult their subordinates before making a collaborative verdict.
  • The natives will view you as arrogant if you’re boasting about your title or accomplishments; the culture is very humble and appreciates seeing modesty in return.
  • Connections are valued and an introduction from an established businessperson can give you an in with a future contract or relationship.

Public Behavior

  • Littering is very offensive to others.
  • When taking a taxi, if you’re a single male passenger, you should always sit in the front seat.
  • When looking for a neutral conversation topic, sports and sightseeing work great.
  • Australians tends to use loutish terminology in everyday conversation that would normally be unacceptable in other countries, so don’t take offense by their colorful language!

Now that you're well prepared for your next jet-setting business trip to Australia, don't forget to stay tuned for our next Business Etiquette blurb!

G'day!