- Make the appointment for your meeting a few days in advance, and indicate what its objectives are beforehand as well. If you already have a written agenda, people will appreciate you sharing it with them prior to the meeting.
- Tardiness reflects badly in a professional setting, so make sure to arrive on time or slightly early. If you’re chairing the meeting, it is more crucial to start punctually.
- Business cards are exchanged over introductions without formality. If this is not done then, they will be given out only if there is a need for another’s contact details following discussions.
- You may introduce yourself by your full name, but expect them to address you by your first name.
- Before you begin discussing business, break the ice with a few minutes of social chat. This should usually only be about impersonal topics (such as the weather) to avoid intruding on others’ private lives.
- Proceedings should follow the set agenda, but it is likely that first meetings will serve the primary purpose of determining familiarity and trustworthiness. Therefore, people will be less concerned with getting to know you personally and more interested in learning about your credentials and ideas.
- Australians may use humour throughout dealings to lighten the setting. Reciprocate this to build a good atmosphere for discussion. In addition, do not be surprised if they use informal language that would be considered unprofessional in your own country (e.g. swearing can be common).
- Give the impression that everything is well managed and under control. Australians like to feel relaxed about business, no matter what the situation may be.
- While meetings may seem casual, they are still taken very seriously.
- Anyone present at a meeting is generally welcome to give their opinion, regardless of age or business hierarchies.
- Using a position of power as a leverage in negotiations is strongly frowned upon.
- Appeal to their common sense during negotiations and be clear about your intentions. Support them with facts and figures, avoiding claims that you cannot demonstrate.
- Negotiations tend to move quickly and smoothly as Australians usually begin with an honest and firm position that does not require back-and-forward tactics and offers to land on. The initial proposal one has made is usually their best.
- Bargaining tactics are not usually used by Australians, and trying to haggle them over prices will likely discourage them from working with you.
- They do not like high-pressure tactics or other types of selling that are confrontational and pushy.
- Aim for a win-win outcome as an even deal will create better chances of future business with them.
- Final decision making can take longer to proceed as subordinates are often consulted before the manager comes to a conclusion.
Relationships and Communication
Australians are quite direct and clear-cut in their business communication. They are rarely intimidated by others’ status of importance and speak plainly when conveying their ideas. Likewise, they wish to be presented with the plain facts and will dismiss points that are made using emotional hype –such as exaggerated claims. When presenting an idea, avoid focusing on the unnecessary details and instead stress the facts, figures and goals.
Australians are also likely to be open if they disagree with you. This is not to say they will be rude (they will usually be diplomatic in their approach) but expect them arrive straight to their point without euphemism.
Because of their matter-of-fact approach, Australians do not feel it necessary to build personal relationships before doing business. They will be more interested in your experience, credentials and the longevity of your company. Nevertheless, Australians are open to cultivating business friendships– especially in the long term. They enjoy building rapport so long as it does not seek to compromise either person’s position in negotiations. Business favour are rarely done on personal grounds.
By all appearances, managers may seem to simply be another member of the team as they only keep a marginal power distance. Nevertheless hierarchies are still definitive. Managers generally try to reach decisions through inclusive avenues so employees can feel involved in the decision-making process. Therefore, brusque orders are unappreciated and seen as arrogant. Instead, directions are generally hinted at and instructions are polite requests (e.g. “Perhaps we should try…” or “Do you think you could…”). This avoids regimentation and formality in the workplace, but it is understood that these suggestions are to still be followed as if they were given as firm orders. A mutual respect is ideal between the employee and manager; those in middle management try to collaborate with their employees to accommodate their needs.
- While giving gifts in business is not expected, it is greatly appreciated and admired when one does so. If you decide to give one, make sure it does not seem to be an attempt at bribery. For example, gifts given to a partner while waiting for them to come to a decision would seem improper. On the other hand, gifts given at the sealing of a deal or closure of negotiations are seen as congratulations.
- Gifts to employees of government-funded organisations may only be accepted if they have a low dollar value, and may have to be declared to the Human Resources or finance department in advance.
- When faced with a problem, Australians tend to seek a quick resolve and move on rather than reflect on what has happened. They generally don’t like to dwell on past errors.
- Nepotism is not very common in Australia as possible bias that could arise from it goes against egalitarian values. In corporate businesses, if family must only be employed on merit and competence.
- Reliability is strongly valued in business culture, therefore when promises are not kept or business falls through, it is often remembered.
- During business functions, you are not obliged to drink alcohol if you do not wish to.
Author : Scroope, Chara. (2019). Australia Culture. The Cultural Atlas