Australian Communication Styles

Although Australia is a polyglot nation, with over 100 languages being spoken by those sections of the population who have emigrated there from all over the world, English is the official and by far the most commonly spoken language.

Australians tend to put directness before diplomacy and therefore can be considered quite blunt on occasions — especially by people from those cultures in which the majority are wary of speaking plainly for fear of creating a negative emotional impact upon the people they are talking to. Directness is cherished in Australia and failure to say what you mean and mean what you say can be mistaken for evasiveness and even hypocrisy.

It is important not to be too self-promotional when presenting to Australians. A hard sell approach can often be misconstrued as bragging and can provoke a very negative response. Remember that people do not like to make out that they are better than others — the same probably applies to products and services. A factual description of issues will be far better received than a more hyperbolic approach.

Australia is one of the very few cultures in which humour is all pervasive in business situations. Not only is humour acceptable in all situations, it is expected in all situations. Never underestimate an Australian senior manager because he or she uses humour at what you might feel to be an inappropriate time.
First names are invariably used in all business situations in Australia. It would be very unusual to call a business contact by their surname. Similarly, educational titles play relatively little part in business situations (other than in the medical or academic worlds.)

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Australia

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Australia has been through an unprecedented period of quarter-upon-quarter GDP growth, mainly fuelled by the rapid growth of the Chinese economy and China’s seemingly limitless demand for the natural resources which are abundant in Australia. This export-led growth trajectory has been in efffect for a number of decades and has enabled Australians to enjoy an enviable lifestyle.

The benefits which have accrued from its relationship with China (and other Asian economies) have allowed Australia to develop a sophisticated service sector and at the same time build state-of-the-art infrastructure across the vastness that of a country that is also a continent. However, there is also some fragility inherent in that success – what impact might recession in China have on Australia? Would employment be severely damaged if such a recession were to occur?

If you are considering doing business in Australia – and there are many reasons why you should – you need to do some research on the business culture you are likely to find when you get there. Despite historic links to the UK many observers feel that Australian business culture is more akin to the way things are done in the US. At Global Business Culture we believe that Australia takes after neither the UK nor the US and that it has developed its own distinct and unique approach.

If you arrive in Sydney thinking you can do business in Australia in the same way it is done in any other culture, you are likely to be proved wrong. Australians have a strong sense of self-reliance and their business culture reflects that characteristic.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Australian business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips