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Doing business in Australia

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If you happen to be face to face with an aboriginal, do never ask ‘Still throwing spears?’ like Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh did when he visited the country in 2002. And beware if you are one of those who like flaunting around your business title – it is most likely that you will be cynically dismissed as a snobbish foreigner.

* The official name of Australia is Commonwealth of Australia.
* Australia does not have an official language, but the national language is English (de facto) and the standard dialect – general Australian.
* The capital city is Canberra, the largest city is Sydney.

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Business Mentality

– Australians are very straightforward when it comes to business, so they do not need to build relationships for a long time before doing business with you. They are receptive to new ideas.

– They appreciate modesty, so try not to oversell your company and do not even think of applying aggressive sales techniques. Try to be factual, friendly and to the point, avoiding self-importance.

– If you manage to impress them, they will not make it obvious.

– Australians demonstrate modesty as much as they appreciate it. They can even downplay their own success, so do not jump into conclusions straight away. Be careful not to play along if they start self-criticising themselves - they will not be as receptive as you might assume.

– If you find yourself challenged to a controversial discussion during a meeting, do not worry - it is nothing personal. They find debates entertaining and will initiate them by making provocative statements, to which it is best to respond with humour!

– The decision making will be slower than usually, as the work environment in Australian business culture is collaborative. Top management will consult subordinates.

– Do not try to rush the decision - patience is very much appreciated.

– The good news is that Australians do not find it hard to say "no", so the answer will be clear and straightforward.

– Business hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

– For business purposes, it is best to visit the country from March to November, as the tourist season occurs from December to February.

READ MORE: English Language History

Greetings

– Australians are not very formal, so greetings are casual and relaxed – a handshake and a smile are appropriate.

– However, while an Australian may say, ‘G’day’ or ‘G’day, mate’, this may sound patronising from a foreigner. Visitors should simply say the traditional ‘Hello’ or ‘Hello, how are you?’As to titles of courtesy, they prefer to use first names, even at the initial meeting.

The Art of Conversation

– English is the spoken language at business meetings. However, stick with standard terms; do not experiment with Australian terms.

Popular welcome topics include the weather, sports (particularly Australian Football AFL in Victoria, and National Rugby League NRL in New South Wales and Queensland). Anything related to Australia in a positive way is a good conversation starter.

Topics to avoid though are religion, politics and sex - unless the Australian counterpart brings it up. Do not get into immigration and aboriginal issues no matter how curious you are. Also, comments on accents will not be welcome, as they often distinguish social classes.

– Note that Australians use colourful language that would be unacceptable in other countries.

READ MORE: Fortune & Folly in Financial Translation

Business meetings and meals

– Regarding dress code, men should wear a dark coloured, conservative business suit.

– Similarly, women should wear a smart dress or a business suit.

– In Brisbane or other tropical areas, depending on the job function and company culture, men may wear shirts, ties and Bermuda shorts.

– Punctuality is important, it better to arrive a few minutes early.

– You can present your business card at the introduction. Keep its content to facts and figures - emotions and feelings are not important.

– Offering gifts is not part of Australian business etiquette, but it is acceptable to bring a small gift from your country. They should be opened when received.

– Table manners are same as in Europe.

Do not say "I am stuffed" after a meal. This means you are pregnant.

– The person making the invitation generally pays the bill in restaurants. However, it is usual for friends to split the bill.

– The guest of honour is generally seated to the right of host.

– If you are invited out for a drink, don’t recall the subject of business unless your counterpart does so.

– In a pub, each person is expected to pay for a round of drinks which is called a “shout”. Avoiding your turn to pay will only create a bad impression of you.

Body Language

– Strong eye-contact is essential - it demonstrates involvement.

– The accepted distance between people at meetings is an arm's length.

– The "thumbs up" gesture is also a vulgar one. So be careful when you want to express joy or victory!

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Did you find this article useful? If so, you might also enjoy our guide to business etiquette in the UK.

If you would like to reference any of our ‘Doing business in’ guides, for academic purposes or otherwise, we suggest you do so in the following format:

Doing business in Australia | Today Translations
https://www.todaytranslations.com/doing-business-in-australia
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