How to Do Business in Australia
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to nearly five million immigrants from 160 countries, Australia
is rich in cultural diversity. Australians, or “Aussies,”
enjoy an easy-going lifestyle and are generally friendly
and relaxed. Modesty and equality are valued.
Meeting and Greeting
- Shake hands with everyone present upon
meeting and before leaving. Allow women to offer their
- Women generally do not shake hands with
- Use titles, Mr., Mrs., and Miss when
- Australians generally move to a first-name
basis quickly. Still, wait to use first names until invited
to do so
- Academic or job-related titles are downplayed
- To beckon a waiter use a quiet hand
- When yawning, cover your mouth and excuse
- Winking at women is considered rude.
- The “V” sign (made with
index and middle fingers, palm facing inward) is a very
vulgar gesture. The “thumbs up” gesture is
also considered obscene.
- Personal relationships are important
in the Australian business world. Connections are valued.
An introduction by an established representative may be
helpful in establishing a relationship with an Australian
- Australians take punctuality seriously.
If possible, arrive fifteen minutes early for a business
- Australians will quickly get down to
business. Communications will be direct, good-humored
and to the point.
- Australian businesspeople tend to be
pragmatic, efficient and profit-oriented. They appreciate
straight-forward, open presentations.
- Australians dislike one-upmanship. Don’t
overplay qualifications, rank or titles.
- Negotiations proceed quickly. Bargaining
is not customary. Proposals should be presented with acceptable
terms. Leave some allowance for some give and take.
- Australians will often negotiate major
issues without over-emphasis on details. However, contracts
are generally detailed and firm.
Dining and Entertainment
- Always arrive on time or a few minutes
early for a dinner.
- The person who makes the invitation
generally pays the bill in restaurants. However, it isn’t
unusual for friends to split the bill.
- Australians follow continental-style
dining etiquette (fork held in the left hand; knife in
- Barbecues — very informal “cook
outs” — are popular in Australia. Sometimes
guests bring their own meat or other items.
- The guest of honor is generally seated
to the right of host.
- Soup should be eaten by moving the spoon
away from you, not toward you.
- Lay knife/fork parallel on plate at
5:25 position when finished eating.
- Keep your hands above the table and
elbows off the table.
- Offer to help with meal preparation
and clean-up when being entertained in a home.
- Do not say “I’m stuffed”
after a meal. This means you are pregnant.
- Australians wear fashions similar those
worn by Europeans and North Americans.
- For business, men should wear conservative
jackets and ties. During the summer months, jackets are
often removed. Women should wear skirts and blouses or
- It is not customary to exchange business
gifts during initial meetings.
- When invited to an Australian’s
home, bring a small gift (flowers, chocolates, or books
about your home country or region) for your hosts.
- Australia produces excellent wine. Taking
wine would be like taking sand to the desert.
- Stick with standard English, not Aussie
- Aussies dislike class distinctions and
have a history of “cutting down the tall poppy.”
This grew out of the Australian prisoners’ hatred
of their British overseers. Many Australian politicians
have declined the designation of knighthood for fear of
alienating their constituents.
- Australians sit in the front seat of
a taxi/limousine. A single passenger sitting in the back
seat is viewed as “putting on airs.”
- Australians respect people with strong
opinions, even if they don’t agree.
- Avoid discussions about the treatment
of the aboriginal people.
- Don’t comment on anyone’s
accent. Accents often distinguish social class.
- If you are teased, you are expected
to reply in kind, with good humor. Such self-confidence
will increase an Australian's respect for you. They do
not admire a subservient attitude.
- Do not sniff or blow your nose in public.
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