After being in business for 28 years and servicing 50+ cities around the world, we’ve picked up a few things when it comes to international business etiquette. Today let’s take a bite-sized look at what to keep in mind when doing business in Australia.
How To Do Business In Australia
Here are nine things to keep in mind when doing business in Australia.
Get your work done during office hours… then get out
Australians are very efficient. Many work overtime but, generally speaking, most people want to get their work done between 9am and 5pm. Keep this in mind during meetings. If your meeting has hit the allotted one-hour mark, wrap it up quickly. Your partners won’t appreciate it if you keep consuming their time past this point. This is particularly true on a Friday afternoon when many are eager to get the beers in and kick off the weekend.
Business time is business time. If you’re used to scheduling lunch meetings where you discuss business over a leisurely meal and a couple of drinks, you might be shocked to find that any suggestion of a “lunch meeting” is met with a request to simply drop by the office to sort things out.
If you don’t like something, say so. Your Australian associates certainly will. Don’t take it personally when Australians are direct with you. Australians want you to get to the point. There is no need to soften your thoughts or build up to expressing your mind. Just say what you think. This means giving a hard ‘no’ if you can’t do something. It’s much better to have a divisive opinion than to stay silent. You should also remember to keep solid eye contact with your associates.
Be prepared for casual speech
Though efficient and direct, you might be surprised to find that Australians generally do not dress up their speech. Business associates will talk to you in much the same way they will talk to their friends. This means you should address them by their first name. This also means you are much more likely to hearing swearing or off-colour jokes in the Australian workplace than you would in other countries.
Embrace the casual speech but remember to stay polite. General manners and respect still stand despite the fact you might hear a few f-bombs.
Forget the business talk outside the office
Going out for a few drinks or a meal with your Australian associates? Leave the business talk in the office and focus on other areas of conversation. Talking sports is often a good bet so you might want to brush up on your rugby and cricket knowledge. However, feel free to talk business if you host brings it up first. If they don’t bring it up, just enjoy some friendly banter.
No business card? No big deal
There are many countries where your business card is an indication of your status. Australia is not one of those countries. If you have a card, great. Give it to your partner at the beginning of your meeting. If you don’t have a card, no worries. Your associate will think nothing of it. The chances are high that many of your Australian associates won’t have a card. If they do, it’s more of an afterthought.
It’s best to downplay your experience and success when dealing with Australian business partners. Being modest means you are down-to-earth and easy to deal with. You will notice that Australians will downplay their own successes. Do not mistake modesty for weakness. You can be dealing with the most successful businessperson in Australia and they will still downplay their achievements.
Meetings have a definite point but might not have a quick resolution
Meetings are efficient and tightly focused. They are not for shooting ideas around or building relationships. However, decision making might lag behind as management will consult with other departments in the company before reaching a decision.
Soft sells are key
Be patient, be friendly, don’t beat around the bush, and keep the pressure off. Australians will not respond well to hard sells. To press for a response will often be met with suspicion. Go with the flow and allow your Australian associates time to come to their decision. To do so will ensure a good working relationship and build trust.
Enjoy your time in Australia with your new friends
Australia is a wonderful country filled with great places to visit and great people to get to know. Australians are some of the friendliest people in the world and are excellent hosts so you are bound to have a fantastic time while you’re out there.
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