So you have been transferred to the Australian branch, or you have undertaken employer-sponsored work down under. If you come from North America or Europe, you might expect a lot of similarities, which may or may not prove true. In that spirit, read on for 7 things that could be helpful to know before you arrive.
1) Research the country in advance so you can chat about places you would like to visit, and don’t be shy to talk about the great food or wine you have had since arriving. Maybe even learn about local sports, as those are a popular topic of conversation. It’s not about knowing anything inside and out, but rather about the interest you are taking in Australian culture. Australians are proud of their beautiful country, so don’t be shy to show your love for it too. And on the flipside, best not to criticise it – even if they do first.
2) Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, as Australians have a great sense of humour! It is not so serious here, with politics and religion more open to being discussed than they are in many other countries. Be open and interested in what your hosts or counterparts are sharing with you, and follow their lead in terms of getting into more sensitive topics of conversation.
3) Tall poppy syndrome is still a thing in Australia (a perceived tendency to disparage those who have achieved notable wealth or prominence). Whereas you might be used to telling new business acquaintances about your impressive qualifications and background in direct terms, in Australia, it is best to prove yourself first and to find more subtle ways of describing your achievements. Remain modest and add value to demonstrate your capabilities, rather than boasting about them.
4) That being said, Australians are fairly direct so speak in clear terms. If you are making a sales presentation, focus on it being straightforward and to the point. Emphasise positive and negative outcomes, and do not be aggressive or try to make a hard sell, as it will likely repel your audience.
5) If you are invited out for a drink or to a social event, do not bring up work until your host does. Australians like to be social and informal, so try to relax and embrace the Australian lifestyle.
6) Because Australians are protective of their work-life balance, there can be more emphasis on getting things done efficiently while at work. Whereas in North America, arriving early and staying late is often the norm, Australians like to come and go on time, which can mean there is more focus on working hard in allotted office hours. This doesn’t mean there aren’t coffee breaks – Australians love their coffee – but there is a get-it-done attitude, and desire to get on the road when the day is done.
7) The start-up culture continues to grow in Australia, and with less emphasis on seniority and hierarchy in many established workplaces, it is common to be in a work environment that is less formal than in Asia or North America. More than anything, we recommend that you be observant of your surroundings and respect how things are done in the beautiful land down under.