It is important to be aware of cross-cultural communication barriers in Australia in the context of business because if you do not adjust your communication style, it may lead to offense and misunderstanding. For example, humor can be very different from one culture to another.
Australian humor often makes fun of others, but that could be seen as rude and insulting in other countries. Therefore, being aware of culture-based communication styles in Australia is important for successful business management.
Australia is a country and continent in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia's population is about 26 million people, who live mostly in urban centers rather than rural areas.
The capital city is Canberra but there are also many large cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. All residents speak English; it’s also common for them to speak a second language such as Mandarin.
Australia's culture-based communication style
Australian culture is a mixture of British and American cultures. The British culture has a strong influence on Australia's culture, but the U.S. culture has also had an impact. Australia is very informal in its communication style.
- The Australian accent is unique and difficult to understand for many people outside of Australia.
- A tendency to speak very quickly can make it hard for non-native Australians to keep up with the conversation.
- Australian humor often involves irony or teasing someone gently without being mean about it; this may seem strange or rude to someone from another country who isn't used to such behavior.
- The Australian people enjoy an open, friendly and relaxed attitude toward others, especially when they are talking about topics they are passionate about. For example, Australians love to talk about sports like football (soccer), cricket, or rugby league—especially if they're playing them themselves!
- Australians tend to be direct communicators; they get straight to the point and speak directly from the heart. When communicating with Australians, make sure you come right out and say what you mean instead of beating around the bush with long explanations or euphemisms.
- Australians often prefer low-context communication styles rather than high-context ones because they are less comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty toward a common goal or outcome (which can include both professional relationships as well as personal ones).
- Many Australians are uncomfortable with silence in the workplace; they expect there to be some sort of conversation going on at all times and feel awkward when there isn't.
- Australians are known for being very modest. They don’t like to brag about their accomplishments or achievements.
- The Australian culture also values debate as a means of finding truth and has no problem with conflict or disagreement when it comes to discussing ideas or issues. This can be difficult for Americans who are used to resolving conflicts privately or through compromise.
- Punctuality is seen as a sign of respect for others and is an important part of doing business in Australia. A lack of punctuality may be viewed as inconsiderate, or even disrespectful.
Non-verbal communication in Australia
- Greeting: In Australia, it is common for people to greet each other with a handshake
- Personal space: Australians tend not to stand too close when talking with someone else—they keep their distance in order to maintain personal space. They also prefer not to have others invade their personal space while speaking with them.
- Eye contact is also an important part of Australian culture. Australians tend to make eye contact more frequently than Americans do because they believe that this helps establish trust between people who are talking with each other.
- Dress code: Australians tend toward casual attire in most situations; however, business attire is often worn for more formal engagements.
Business communication etiquette in Australia
- Greetings should begin with a smile and a good handshake. It is considered rude to not greet someone when you see them.
- When speaking with someone who has a higher status than you in the organization, avoid using first names until invited by them to do so.
- Never use ''mate'' to refer to anyone higher than yourself on the organizational hierarchy.
- It is important to be on time for meetings in Australia, especially since Australians have a reputation for being very punctual.