WORKING ABROAD / AUG. 08, 2014
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How to Master Business Etiquette in Australia

Australia is one of the prime nations to travel, invest, live or do business in. With its beautiful sceneries, immaculate weather and business-friendly climate, Australia has become a popular country for a variety of people, including the business and finance community.

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, Australia is ranked No. 3, just behind Singapore and ahead of Switzerland. The conservative think-tank has lauded the country for its protection of property rights and business, financial, investment and trade freedoms.

The Australian economy benefits from a number of sectors, such as precious metals, commodities and natural resources. With its near $1 trillion gross domestic product, Australia has entered into a free-trade agreement with nearby nations, including New Zealand, Chile, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Here is what the Heritage Foundation writes about Australia:

“With an economy that benefits from sound fundamentals including monetary stability, low public debt, and a vibrant employment market, Australia has weathered the global economic uncertainty well. Openness to global trade and investment is firmly institutionalized, supported by a relatively efficient entrepreneurial framework and a well-functioning independent judiciary. Australia has a strong tradition of reliable property rights protection, and the legal system is transparent and evenly applied. Effective anti-corruption measures are in force.”

If you’re thinking about changing your surroundings, taking a different career path or starting different business relationships in Sydney then here are five business etiquettes to know in Australia:

Communication

English is the primary language spoken in Australia. But with its multicultural society there are a number of other languages espoused each day: Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Greek, Cantonese and Vietnamese.

During conversations, it’s important to maintain direct eye contact. If this is ignored then it is viewed as disrespectful and rude. (It should be noted, however, that the Aboriginal people of Australia do not make eye contact at all.)

Furthermore, being at about an arm’s length away from the person you’re conversing with is the proper way, but it can be different when you’re in the company of friends and family members. Touching is also important to understand: shoulders, elbows and upper-arms are safe places to touch in business meetings, but other areas are inappropriate.

Dress Code

When male business associates meet, it is polite to wear a conservative business suit. Numerous companies in Australia permit business casual, which means pants and a collared shirt without a jacket are acceptable. Females are required to sport dresses, pantsuits and business suits and it’s key to understand to avoid wearing revealing clothing.

The most important thing to remember is to appear clean and well-groomed.

Greetings

The handshake is the primary greeting form between the genders, but there are other subtle greetings, too, such as a nod or a kiss on the cheek.

For instance, when men greet men in formal situations then they firmly shake hands, but in less casual circumstances then a nod of acknowledgement can suffice. Meanwhile, when it comes to women greeting women, a handshake is required in formal settings, but a kiss on the cheek can be adequate in informal meetings.

Professional Titles & Business Cards

Upon an initial meeting, it’s prudent to address the other person as Mr. and Mrs. followed by their last name. However, most Australians want to go on a first-name basis so wait until they say it’s alright to call them by their first name.

There are no precise rituals when it comes to giving and receiving business cards.

Punctuality

Being punctual really depends on the situation. For example, punctuality is more valued in business and professional settings, but it isn’t as significant in social meetings. Since much of the country is easy going, individuals will assist each other by being flexible on time.

Australia does maintain some of the rudimentary unwritten social rules, but the overall culture is laid back and understanding. Although you are expected to be polite, professional and clean, it’s not coarse to be late once in a while and call someone by their first name during the first 20 minutes of a business meeting.

Have you previously conducted business in Australia? Let us know in the comment section.

Photo by Patty Jansen via Pixabay.

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