10 tips for doing business in Australia

Introduction to Australian business culture

Australians appreciate directness and like to settle things generally without undue ceremony. Personal trust and a belief in the character and ability of business associates are important aspects of gaining trust and confidence. They do not appreciate attempts to deliberately impress; their down-to-earth attitude will quickly root out anybody considered to be ‘phoney’. Being self-assured and in command of the subject in hand however, will create respect. Confident presenting skills are a big asset, as is a direct, straightforward negotiating style and an ability to make decisions. Being a good listener is also a valued quality.

Australians are naturally cynical, particularly around anybody who seems too good to be true. There is often an empathy with the underdog. Having said this, they will form a natural trust of someone they consider to be their equal – unless this person proves otherwise.

Taking the trouble to become acquainted with local conditions and issues will help win approval and acceptance. An enthusiasm for Australia’s vigour, the beauty of its landscape, the quality of its food and entertainment and its prowess in sport will be good topics of conversation.

Top 10 tips on Australian business culture

Here are 10 essential tips for making a good impression when doing business with Australians:

  1. Embrace multiculturalism. Australia is a highly diverse society with a wide variety of nationalities represented in its immigrant population. It is also a very tolerant society with a large LGBT community. The Aboriginal culture goes back thousands of years.
  2. Keep it casual. Australians tend not to be formal – although a casual style does not mean a lack of professionalism.
  3. Be sincere. Australians dislike pretentiousness and tend to cut a person who boasts down to size.
  4. Use humour. Australians enjoy banter and humour is often used to break the ice, especially in a presentation. You should be able to laugh at yourself.
  5. Be pragmatic. Australians prefer a solid action plan to theory and conceptual thinking.
  6. Do not get offended. Australian communication style can be highly explicit and blunt but this should not be taken as a sign of aggression.
  7. Be professional. Be on time for meetings, be prepared and keep proposals straightforward, without hype.
  8. Embrace a sense of fair play. Try not to be judgmental and try to solve any conflict in a balanced way, using well-reasoned arguments.
  9. Be practical. Allow time to get over jet lag if you are visiting Australia from, say, Europe or North America. Do not try to do business straight off the flight.
  10. Although business is not especially personal, the gregarious Australians are enthusiastic hosts and will invite visitors to any number of events to make them feel at home.

Learn more about Australia with our quick video guide:

Do you regularly work across cultures? Would you like to improve your ability to communicate and influence with colleagues and clients from other cultures?

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australian business culture

About the Author

Terence Brake

Terence Brake is an author in the global learning & development field and has over 20 years experience helping executives to work better across cultures.

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