Contributed by Gayle Cotton, an Emmy Award winner, communications expert and keynote speaker. This blog entry, which was first published on Gayle’s blog, www.circlesofexcellence.com, highlights how to effectively communicate with Australians. This will be an ongoing segment in EO Bold.
- Australians tend to be enthusiastic conversationalists and debaters. A wide range of topics may be open to discussion.
- Don’t boast about yourself or your company’s accomplishments. Instead, Australians will judge your competence and abilities through your actions.
- Cynicism is part of the national character. It may be directed at people who seem too wealthy or powerful. In this culture, there is greater respect for the “underdog.”
- The work environment in Australian business culture tends to be collaborative. Before a decision is made, top management will consult subordinates and their input will be given careful consideration. Consequently, decision-making will be slower, so don’t rush this process.
- Australians generally dislike aggressive sales techniques. Since they value directness, presentations of any kind should be straightforward, with an emphasis on both the positive and negative outcomes.
- Point with your entire hand; pointing at someone with your index finger may be considered impolite.
- Australian hospitality tends to be somewhat informal, particularly when you are invited to a home. Barbecues, affectionately known as “barbies,” are a very popular form of entertaining.
Welcome Topics of Conversation
- Unlike some countries, Australians are open to discuss religion, politics and even the Australian government.
- Australian traditions and sports are always great topics.
- Discuss something about the area of Australia you’re visiting. Australians are very proud of their country. Know the landmarks.
- Your international travels to other countries is always of interest.
- Australian food; restaurants, beer and wine. Australia has excellent food!
- Australian culture in general; theater, movies and opera, etc.
- Compliments are welcome!
Conversation to Avoid
- Criticizing or joking about Australia, its cultures and traditions, or other Australians, even if your Australian companions are doing so.
- Ethnic relations as it relates to the history of the Aborigines
- Talking too much about your education, professional experience, business success and related achievements may be considered as boasting.
- Australians are often distrustful of authority and of people who think that they are somehow “better” than others. Remain modest in conversation.
- If you are invited out for a drink, don’t bring up the subject of business, unless your host does so.