In order to be successful in business, you must capitalize on your international presence. With this in mind, Australia might be one of the markets that you consider. Our Australian Business Etiquette guide provides you with the necessary skills and tips to make sure that you stay on the right side of the customs and norms of other cultures.
In this article, we go through what is Australian Business Etiquette. You’ll learn how to be polite in Australia while doing business there.
Our article is a complete guide to Australian business etiquette! Follow these rules when overseas doing business in Australia.
- Our tips for Australian Business Etiquette
- 1. Always shake hands
- 2. Meetings are not excuses for private confabs
- 3. Take the high road, be the first to turn your cheek
- 4. Being frank and open-minded
- 5. Display some effort in your appearance (but not too much!)
- 6. Be generous with your time
- 7. Show respect and gratitude (and don’t forget about honesty!)
- 8. Don’t be too casual about rules and regulations (especially when dealing with the government)
- 9. In many ways, Australians are very laid-back people (but don’t be careless)
- 10. Be punctual at all times
- 11. Never make someone feel rejected or unappreciated (unless you are serious)
- 12. Show consideration for other cultures, and you will be respected
- 13. Men always open doors for women
- 14. Australia is a polite country with good manners (don’t be a jerk)
- 15. Business cards are not necessary (but a nice touch)
- 16. Simple body language is important (don’t stare at someone)
- 17. Yes, sir/no sir is always taken seriously
- 18. Always conduct yourself in a professional manner
- 19. Don’t make things too complicated
- 20. Have a sense of humor (too much of one is over the top)
- 21. Don’t be too direct
- 22. Australians are very open to the opinions of others
- 23. Giving compliments is an excellent way to get someone on your side
- 24. Realize that Australians are very different from Americans
- 25. Put your best foot forward at all times
- 26. Be firm but not aggressive (don’t be emotional)
- 27. Make sure you ask for help if you need it
- Final thoughts on Australian Business Etiquette
Our tips for Australian Business Etiquette
1. Always shake hands
Shaking hands is a big part of business in Australia. Make sure to shake hands even with people you know well. If you are offered your hand, always take it and shake it firmly.
In that context, you should always shake hands with women as well. This is a common practice in many parts of the world, and it’s not just because it might make people feel less anxious (though it will often do that). However, it is also because it demonstrates how respectful you are.
If someone doesn’t want to shake hands with you, for whatever reason, they will tell you clearly. For example, if they have a cold or injury that prevents them from shaking hands, they’ll simply say so. But otherwise, it’s always best to offer your hand if at all possible.
Be careful though, because a firm handshake can be offensive in some areas. There are some cultures where the handshake is not a greeting, like for example in the Arab world and in the Indian Subcontinent.
Therefore, even when shaking hands in Australia, you should watch out for who you are doing business with in order to take the best cue.
Also, never shake hands with people and completely ignore them if they are not looking at you. This is not professional and might even be rude in some cultures. In Australia, however, it is considered rude if someone ignores you without an explanation.
2. Meetings are not excuses for private confabs
It is vital to make an effort to have a good working relationship with your colleagues, clients, and any person you may do business with.
Take every meeting seriously, without taking it for granted. No matter where your meeting takes place (the office, a restaurant, etc. ), always make sure to be on time, unless it’s something that can’t be changed.
In Australia, it’s not usually too challenging to get a business meeting in a public place. However, you should avoid meeting clients or people you are doing business with at their residence without asking first. Only insist if you are making substantial progress with your discussions or when they insist on meeting somewhere else.
3. Take the high road, be the first to turn your cheek
The way you communicate is crucial in your business. Most people are used to a professional setting for communication, so don’t make it personal if you possibly can. This means that you shouldn’t try to engage in an argument and never talk negatively about other people just for the sake of saying negative things.
Avoid taking a position that harms someone else, even during an argument or disagreement. Instead, focus on delivering information and making sure that it has been understood by all parties involved.
Especially in Australia, it’s easy to develop a good working relationship by practicing this type of behavior.
4. Being frank and open-minded
The Australian culture likes to be open-minded and frank. It’s very easy to talk about marriage, children, and other matters without receiving too many adverse reactions. Don’t take this for granted because in some countries, this is seen as being too forward.
It’s also one of the reasons why people can get a lot done in a short time. If you can be frank and open up, you’ll be able to face every obstacle together.
Don’t think that frankness is rude or offensive, it’s the key to success.
5. Display some effort in your appearance (but not too much!)
Slacks, ties, and high-quality shoes are the normal attire for men in most situations. You should also be well-groomed and clean at all times.
Women should usually dress nicely, but not excessively in Australia, though there are some occasions where you might be more dressed up.
In general, business looks in Australia are conservative and neat. However, always be appropriate and dress nicely, even if it’s just for a meeting.
6. Be generous with your time
Australians are very busy people and will often work long hours (and sometimes weekends too). They are not afraid to ask for help from their partners or colleagues, especially if they need it.
This means that you should be prepared to offer your time when needed as well. Never pretend to be busy when someone urgently needs your help.
And, of course, if you don’t have any obligations that require your time, you can always volunteer to help someone. You should never go as far as pretending to be busy when you aren’t just for the sake of being a difficult person, though.
7. Show respect and gratitude (and don’t forget about honesty!)
A little bit of respect goes a long way in Australia. Australians are known to be some of the nicest people in the world.
Don’t take this for granted or you may find that they will not accept your work to them at all. If you are doing business with someone, keep them updated if things aren’t going well and let them know when things are progressing.
A piece of advice that is mostly unspoken in Australia is honesty. If you are asked for your opinion, then it’s best to give it in full. It is always better to be honest, to avoid being disappointed later on down the road. This is a vital part of the Australian Business Etiquette.
8. Don’t be too casual about rules and regulations (especially when dealing with the government)
Australia has a complicated tax code, and sometimes laws can be changed very quickly without notice. In general, it’s best not to take anything for granted when dealing with government-related matters or tax issues.
In the end, you need to follow all rules and regulations to the best of your ability. If you are asked to do something that you are unsure of, let them know and make the proper decision.
Australians take compliance and integrity issues quite seriously. If you want to succeed in doing business in Australia, keep compliance as a big consideration. It is a crucial piece in the Australian Business Etiquette.
9. In many ways, Australians are very laid-back people (but don’t be careless)
Australian culture loves to live a simple life. Many people like this lifestyle because it allows them the time to enjoy their family, friends, and hobbies in their spare time.
Australians are very relaxed people, and this is easy to see as soon as you arrive. They are known to be very friendly and laid back when dealing with foreigners.
However, don’t let this casual feeling make you lazy or careless. You should always work hard to complete your tasks because if you don’t work hard, it’s likely that someone else will take your place.
Also, never make an effort to show that you’re not careful just because everyone else is not so attentive.
10. Be punctual at all times
Punctuality is one of the most valued personal qualities in Australia. Always arrive on time for business meetings and appointments and be prepared to wait if your business partner is not there yet.
Arriving late for a meeting is a definite no-no in Australian Business Etiquette. When doing business with Australians, they take punctuality seriously here, and arriving late will make it hard for you to build a good relationship with your partner.
If you will be attending a meeting, be sure that you arrive on time and don’t try to be early if it isn’t necessary. It’s best to arrive on time if you are at the meeting. It’s just another way in which they treat their clients well.
If you miss a meeting, make sure to let them know so that they can reschedule it for another time and make sure to send an apology letter beforehand so that everyone knows what happened and why.
Always bring a watch with you so that you know the exact time of your meetings and appointments. If you aren’t sure of the time, just ask.
11. Never make someone feel rejected or unappreciated (unless you are serious)
Australians may be laid back and casual, but they still have a sense of respect for each other. This means that if you aren’t straightforward about your thoughts and feelings, it can cause tension in the workplace.
Instead, be open and honest about what is going on between the two of you. And don’t hurt anyone’s feelings unnecessarily. This is essential in Australian Business Etiquette.
In general, Australians are not the type to start fights at the office. It would help if you never acted like you disagree when it’s unnecessary because this will only make you a bad employee.
12. Show consideration for other cultures, and you will be respected
Australia is a multicultural country in both the government and society, so you must respect this fact. Always make sure to adapt to the local culture even if it makes you uncomfortable at first.
When doing business in Australia, you will undoubtedly interact with many cultures – Indians, Africans, Americans, Europeans, and more. Therefore, you should always approach these people with respect and avoid treating them differently.
The way you treat others is to treat you, so make sure to be respectful. Adapting to a new culture can be a challenge, but it’s much easier when everyone is friendly and helpful.
13. Men always open doors for women
In Australia, men must always open the doors for women. It is considered extremely rude to refuse a woman her right to enter a room first.
This usually occurs when two women are exiting from an office building together and one of them wants to enter before the other. The first woman should then wait outside to make the other feel embarrassed by saying “no.”
If a woman has an important conversation with the boss, he will not open a door for her. Instead, he will wait until she has had her discussion. This doesn’t mean that the door is being held open in any way. It simply means that the man is respecting the importance of his boss’s conversation.
The same happens when ladies are talking to other men who are senior to them. A young lady will not open a door or hold one open for another man unless he is senior to her.
14. Australia is a polite country with good manners (don’t be a jerk)
One of the main reasons Australian business culture is so easy to understand is that they are very polite.
Be respectful when speaking to people and making requests in public, no matter what you are asking for. If you want something from a store or business, ask them politely instead of just barging in and demanding it. If you act like this, then you will be treated as an outsider from the very beginning.
Here are some more tips to keep in mind when doing business in Australia. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify anything that you don’t understand about their culture. It’s always better for everyone involved if they can understand each other.
15. Business cards are not necessary (but a nice touch)
When doing business with someone in Australia, don’t send your contact information on business cards. A business card is not necessary when you’re only meeting someone for the first time and don’t have a reason to keep in touch.
If you do send your card, then make sure to have it designed professionally so that it is high quality but without too much information on it. It’s better for them to get in touch with you and share their contact information if they really want to have a long-lasting relationship, instead of giving them the option on the spot.
16. Simple body language is important (don’t stare at someone)
Australians are very laid back and casual, especially compared to other cultures in the world, but they still take good care of their appearance and put on some classy business attire when they’re working.
When meeting someone, they will greet you politely and not stare at you or make eye contact for too long until you’ve greeted them back. This is just another way in which they are respectful of other cultures.
If you’re having a conversation with someone and they refuse to look at you in the eye, then you should respect that. This means that they want to keep a respectful distance from you and it’s improper to try to make them break this moral code.
Meetings usually begin by shaking hands with the person who has given the instructions and finishing off with all of the attendees when introductions have been made.
17. Yes, sir/no sir is always taken seriously
When asking a question to someone in Australia, you must use the correct title. Always call them “sir” or “madam” when speaking to a higher-up person in a business setting.
This is simply respecting that they are the boss and therefore deserve respect. If you don’t do this, it could be taken the wrong way and cause tension between you and others. This is not how business is done in Australia, so make sure not to get too far from your manners!
18. Always conduct yourself in a professional manner
Australians are very polite and to maintain good business relations with them, you must be the same. This means that you should not dress up too much or wear revealing clothing, approach people with bad body language, or talk in a disrespectful way of their culture.
Just like you would not disrespect someone because of their gender, race, or country they are from – the same applies to the cultures of others. Please treat everyone with respect no matter what they’re doing or what country they’re from.
If you do not come across as professional when doing business in Australia, you will be looked down upon and might not get as much business coming your way.
19. Don’t make things too complicated
When starting a conversation in Australia, don’t make it too difficult for them to understand you. Be natural and use simple language and expressions when communicating with people.
Don’t continually interrupt them or change what they’re talking about to make it confusing for them to understand what you’re saying entirely. Make it easy for them to follow you and respond to you in a way that benefits you both.
If you’re speaking to someone in a formal situation, go ahead and shake their hand when greeting them. You should not build a business relationship on casual introductions.
20. Have a sense of humor (too much of one is over the top)
Aussie business culture is laid-back and often quite funny – that’s what makes it so easy for Australians to have such good relationships and conduct business with each other without any tension or problems whatsoever.
The sense of humor that they have is quite different from what you may be used to; it can be a bit harsh sometimes so it’s important not to take offense. In their defense, they probably didn’t mean for anything that they said to offend you.
They use Australian slang a lot which is pretty funny in itself. Suppose you’re not too comfortable using this slang with them (especially if you’re not from Australia). In that case, it’s a good idea to try and listen instead of participating in the conversation at hand.
21. Don’t be too direct
Australians’ sense of humor is very strong because of the Australian people’s laid-back and direct nature.
Be careful not to be too direct when asking a question or making a request; instead, try to ask it indirectly so that they don’t feel attacked or like you’re blaming them for anything. If you have something important to say, then make sure to back it up with facts and research.
22. Australians are very open to the opinions of others
Since the Australian people themselves can be very direct, they expect the same from others interacting with them. They don’t want anyone to be fake or pretend that they like them when in fact, they don’t.
If you have any criticism to make about their business or what they’re doing, then you should not hesitate to bring up your concerns and give your opinion on it. They’re open to it and will appreciate it if you let them know!
23. Giving compliments is an excellent way to get someone on your side
Compliments are always welcomed in Australia. If you compliment someone on something that they’ve done or said, then they’ll be flattered and like you more because of this.
Since Australians love open and direct communication, you can approach someone with a compliment instead of a disagreeable opinion or complaint if you’re trying to get their attention about something.
When you pay a business partner a compliment, they will know that you respect their work and are willing to consider their advice.
24. Realize that Australians are very different from Americans
If you spend time in Australia for business, don’t compare them to people here in America. Many people make this a big mistake when meeting Australians because they don’t realize how different they are until it’s too late and the damage is already done.
Examples of these differences include how they communicate, how they deal with things regarding business, and their sense of humor. All in all – be open-minded and excited to learn the ways of this new culture while you’re there!
To excel in business in Australia, you need to make this cultural considerations a big part of the Australian Business Etiquette.
25. Put your best foot forward at all times
When going to do business in Australia, it’s important to always be on your best behavior and conduct yourself to allow you to get along with other people.
If you come across as rude or disrespectful to other people, they will think that you’re not serious about doing business with them and will look down on you. As long as you act appropriately with how they speak and conduct business, there should be no problems with your interactions.
When it comes to Australian Business Etiquette, this is what it means to put your best foot forward! You don’t want to give anyone any reason to doubt whether or not you’re serious about the business relationship that you have with them.
26. Be firm but not aggressive (don’t be emotional)
Australians understand that everyone is free to make their own choices, but they are also aware of the logical reasons behind why they should do certain things. Sometimes, this means that they may become a little more firm than Americans are, but they are still very reasonable in their own ways.
They don’t want to be ruled by emotions when doing business with them. Instead, they would like to have a logical discussion about what needs to be done and how it should be done. They’re not emotional just because of due to this… they do feel strongly about certain things (which is OK) but they don’t need everyone to see it at first glance.
This means that if someone chooses to make the wrong decision, they should understand this by themselves without being told by someone else.
27. Make sure you ask for help if you need it
Australians are accommodating people and will always go out of their way to help out other people. This makes business relations between Australians and the United States citizens easier, as it eliminates the need for business etiquette from the equation.
This is a nice sentiment, but it does not mean you can ask for help whenever you need it. You have to provide evidence, say that your child is in danger, or that the situation is inappropriate or undesirable before they will make a judgment about it.
Their way of thinking is not to judge and close the door but rather to try and find a solution to the situation.
Final thoughts on Australian Business Etiquette
You should take this into consideration when you’re doing business with Australians. They’re very different from Americans and will probably have a different idea of what to expect when you deal with them.
Don’t let this discourage you; just be prepared for it and understand that you can still get along with them after all of the differences are taken care of. Good luck with your interactions!
Australia has a lot to offer the world! Not only is it an amazing country full of fun, adventure, and beaches, but it’s also a top tourism destination. If you’re looking to visit Australia for business, then use this guide to ensure you stay on the right side of Australian Business Etiquette.
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