“Nations expire, human goverments are constantly re-cast; political systems are built up by one generation to be pulled down and re-cast by another; false religions, accomompanied by the licentious vehemence of human passions, effect the greatest social changes; peace and war, infidelity and revolution, shape and re-shape human destiny: but amid the decay and the wreck, the confusion and the crimes, which constantly disfigure the face of the earth the asylum of Home has never been overthrown. The family circle…survives amid the waters of universal change…”
– Happy Homes and How to Make Them pg 4.
Australian etiquette is always something that intrigues me. Australians people, commonly dubbed “Aussies”, have an casual air about them, which is epitomized by the common saying “She’ll be right mate”. Life tends to be informal and relaxed, particularly in the rural areas of Australia. The country folk are particularly friendly and even in this age of hustle and bustle generally have the time for an informal chat, which always seems to includes some comment about the prevailing weather conditions in their area
• Men in business attire, usually wear a conservative dark business suit and tie.
• Women may wear a dress, or skirt and blouse, for business.
• Informal clothing is appropriate when not attending business functions.
• Country gents characteristically never go too far without their favorite hat, which often have a personality of their own.
• Country women enjoy their weekly outings to town and relish the opportunity to get dressed up for the occasion.
• Being punctual is critical.
• Maintain good eye contact during meetings and conversations.
• When conversing with them be sure not to invade their space by moving too close to them.
• A single, male passenger using a taxi should sit in the front seat.
• Gift giving or tipping is not a common practice in business.
• You may bring a small gift of, wine or flowers if invited to someone’s home. chocolate
• Should you approach a line/queue, go to the end/back and wait your turn.
• Do not litter.
• Afternoon tea is about 4:00pm
• Tea is between 6:00 – 8:00pm and is an evening meal
• Supper is a late night light meal or snack
• English is the spoken language
• Shake hands when meeting and when leaving.
• Although uncommon, some women may greet each other with a kiss on the cheek.
• Exchanging business cards is common among professional workers.
• Australians are friendly and open, but directness and brevity are valued.
• Opinions are respected, and opinionated discussions are entertaining.
• Be an active listener, and ask if you do not understand something in the conversation.
• Do not hype yourself, your company or your information.
• Sightseeing and sports are good conversational topics
The key to becoming an ‘Aussie’ is to stay relaxed, keep realtions informal and don’t be afraid to mix business with pleasure. As Australia is a Commonwealth country many of its citizens will hold titles similar to those in the UK, but be aware of how the person you are meeting prefers to be addressed. Untitled persons should be addressed as Mr, Mrs, or Ms on first greeting.
Australians will soon adopt first name terms when talking to visitors. As a rule they abhor stiffness, so this friendly informality will also stretch into the small talk that will precede the meeting proper. It is common for Australian men to call each other ‘mate’.
Avoid long-winded job titles, they are simply not considered important, so avoid pinning one of these tags on yourself in the course of polite conversation. Your host will wonder what on earth you are trying to prove. Australians have a mindset that does not take well to perceived authority or anyone with pretensions of superiority. Australia’s is a very even business environment where people are also quite frank and direct in their comments and criticisms, which may be meant earnestly but should be taken in good humour.
The Australian default condition is casual so aggressive sales pitch, or meandering negotiations can be met quite negatively. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be modest, direct and to the point. As in the UK, time is seen as valuable and irreplaceable commodity in Australia so book appointments well ahead and stick to them, arriving punctually and dressed smartly.
Most Australians sincerely believe that the have been born into the best country in the world, and during business and social meetings you may be reminded of this. Listen politely, nod encouragingly and try not to bring up the 2005 Ashes defeat too often. Australians, in general, don’t encourage comparisons of their culture with that of the US. Australians may not like authority but they stick to the letter of the law when it comes to business. Company policy is followed at all times. Decision making tend to be made more collaboratively, and therefore cannot be rushed.
Aussies are increasingly a mufti-cultural community, however up until relatively recently Irish, English, Italians, Greeks and Germans made the major contributions to the building of Australia.. Mostly these ethnic groups have assimilated well into the greater Australian community and yet have still been able to retain their distinctive character. Only after several generations do they loose their uniqueness as they impart a little of what they brought with them to the building of the Australian culture. We can look forward to the added flavor of the more recent Asian migrants as they also impart a little of what they brought with them to the culture of Australia.
Photo Credits: Danish Royal Watchers