How They Do it Down Under: The Basics of Australian Business Etiquette

Business etiquette matters, from negotiating construction hardware supplies to having your HVAC systems repaired and completing mergers. For Australians, business etiquette is a matter of honesty, wit, and patience. Business dealings with Australians will inevitably mean:

Modesty and Factuality

Australians are modest when it comes to their accomplishments; it follows that their business partners should express modesty as well. Overselling your business may do more harm than good when promoting to Australians. Be factual with your presentation and don’t inflate your importance. They’re there for business opportunities, not to grow enamored with you.

At the same time, don’t take their modesty for shyness nor indifference. Australians won’t make it obvious when you’ve caught their attention. Their appreciation is expressed in other ways. Be in tune if they seem like they’re downplaying their own successes, as they may not be at the moment of real self-criticism.

Straightforward and Friendly

Purple prose has no place in an Australian business setting. Aussies may use more colorful language than one is used to, but they use even that in a straightforward manner. A fact backed by figures and direct questioning are hallmarks of these transactions.

Australians tend to be friendly and casual. This extends to the boardroom in terms of a meeting’s levity. Fostering a good relationship with business contacts will make repeat transactions more viable. Be aware that their friendliness can translate into debates in the boardroom. Answer factually and with humor in these situations.

Punctual and Productive Meetings

group of executives having a meetingBook your meetings in advance and stick to the time. Australians value punctuality and appointments made with good lead time beforehand. Having a written agenda will keep your presentation on track. Passing this agenda along will be highly appreciated by your counterparts.

Prior to starting meetings, break the ice and establish your friendliness. Introduce yourself, exchange business cards, and maintain a balance between casualness and formality. When it’s time to start, follow your agenda closely. Keep the tone light, don’t be surprised by their colorful language, and avoid high-pressure tactics that break their coolness.

Slower Decisions

Australians tend to be final in their decisions. Haggling, bargaining tactics, and confrontation will not budge them from their place and will discourage them from transacting with you in the future. The first proposal they say yes to will tend to be your best and final avenue to a closed deal.

These decisions come after long deliberations owing to the highly collaborative nature of Australian workplaces. Consultation upon consultation will happen before a consensus is made. Exhibit patience when waiting for decisions, which will be as straightforward as the rest of your dealings.

The Niceties that Come Along with It

Business dealings, especially cross-country deals, will include some form of interaction outside the boardroom. On a night out with Australian clients, be mindful of the cultural differences. The cultural landscape of each Australian state has changed thanks to decades of immigration and globalization.

Gift exchanges should be appropriate to the outing, e.g. a good bottle of wine in dinners. Promptness is appreciated even during dinners and outings. Check the dress code for out-of-boardroom meetings. Conservative business dress is appropriate for formal meetings, though dinners may call for Bermuda shorts, especially in states with tropical climates.

Whether you’re conducting business in Australia or elsewhere, remember to put your best foot forward. Successful businesses are built on partnerships, participated in by culture-forward entrepreneurs.

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