Different countries nurture different cultures, and business ethics also differs from one country to another. Going to Australia for a business trip may turn out to be a very enjoyable experience due to the amazing landscapes, colorful culture and most of all, friendly and warm-hearted people.
Although Australia was founded as a British colony, their attitude toward both foreigners and each other is quite different from the British elitist demeanor (of course the British have their own perception of this). It is often said that Australian society is an egalitarian one, which means that individual efforts and beliefs are far more valued than one’s social background, and emphasis is put on the fact that no one is better than anyone else. This particular characteristic was very influential in forming common values shared among Australian people.
Individuality and freedom of speech are much appreciated in all aspects of day-to-day life, while boasting with personal achievements is generally frowned upon. Of course, this doesn’t mean that hard-work and a reasonable strive for success are not valued. It just implies that ostentatious people who take themselves too seriously won’t make too many friends among Aussies. Being that Australian population is small-scaled compared to many other countries, and the fact that Australia is a huge and underpopulated, immigration policy was never very strict and people from all corners of the world settled in and made a home for themselves.
More then 200 different langues are spoken and likely at least as many nationalities comprise our diverse society. This contributed greatly to their economic success, as ideas were never valued on someone’s cultural or racial traits, but rather on their authenticity.
All of the aforementioned traits are deeply rooted in all aspects of social interactions and can be recognized in business relationships, corporate “hierarchy” and all other forms of formal communications.
You will first certainly notice a difference in your and Australian accent:
If you strive to make a good first impression when meeting your potential business associates from Australia, it is important to pay attention to several things. They value punctuality, as expected in the business world. Although, don’t be surprised if they are 5 or 10 minutes late to the meeting.
Your attitude towards them is even more important. Seeing that they are considered to be extrovert people, you are very likely to get of on the right foot with them if you greet them with a firm handshake and a smile. Eye contact goes without saying. Polite small talk is in order, but there is no need to make conversation if you don’t feel like it. Australians are very honest and direct. Fake or forced politeness will probably leave a bad impression.
Getting down to business
Aussies are considered to be very hard-working and like to get straight to business. It is best to use everyday language, Aussies certainly won’t stop themselves from using colorful words. Of course, good sense of humor is always seen as a virtue.
Presentation should consist of plain facts and figures and any demands should be blatantly stated without beating around the bush. Avoid pompously building up your company and do not try to make yourself look more important then you really are as you will probably be ridiculed. negotiations are not customary as people are expected to express themselves straightforwardly.
When closing a business deal, it is advised to make sure both sides are content with the agreement. Australians do not value aggression in business relations and appreciate their potential associates’ interests. This is largely due to Australia having a relatively small population scattered over a huge area. For that reason, having to deal with same people in a certain business is often unavoidable.
Corporate structure with a complex and rigid hierarchy is not typical for Australian companies. Bouncing ideas off each other is a way many businesses are run. Although the final decision lies with the senior executive staff, everyone is entitled to an opinion and employees expect to be a part of the decision making process. Failing to include others would result in an indifferent attitude towards implementation of anything that has been decided on.
It is interesting that most managers try to present themselves as equals and want to befriend their underlings, and their bosses want the same from them. This is rampant in the whole of Aussie culture.
Although Aussies keep their working atmosphere very informal and address their business associates by their first name, their work clothes are quite formal. In cities with milder climate men are expected to wear conventional, preferably dark suits. Female apparel includes elegant dresses, blouses, knee-length skirts in any combination that can be considered smart. These rules tend to be a little less strict in regions with tropical climate, where it is appropriate for men to wear just shirts to work (a tie is still recommended).
Australians are said to be cheerful and outgoing people with a strong sense of comradery. Although they might not all be constrained to such stereotypes, an informal but polite approach is probably the safest bet with business relationships, as well as other social interactions.
Mark is an Aussie that often finds himself flying out from Brisbane to London and back. Connect with him at @TomMark84.
Image Credit: sojourningabroad.com