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Cracking the lid on Aussie business communication

It’s true what they say, Aussies do it differently.

Those who have worked overseas or done business with international organisations understand that Australian have developed their own take on business culture.

For this Australia Day, we want to explore how Australian business communication differs from our international counterparts.

We use questionable words
Don’t be mistaken, business meetings in Australia are still a formal affair aimed at getting things done. But it sometimes doesn’t take long before “bastard”, “crap” or other swear words are peppered about – words that would raise major eyebrows in other parts of the world.  Context is everything and chances are these will be used in an affectionate way.

We don’t always mean what we say
From sarcasm through to self-deprecation, the words that fall out of our mouths can’t be taken at face value. Then there are commonly used, made-up words like “yeah-nah”, which only Australians understand mean “I see what you’re saying but I completely disagree”.  And when people say they “sort of” know about a subject, it probably means they’re an expert.

A handshake still means a lot
The “Goldilocks” handshake – not too hard but not too soft – is still the goal of all Australians. In the business world, people’s perception of you is shaped and sealed on that very first introductory handshake. No pressure though.

Eye contact matters
As if navigating the handshake hurdle wasn’t enough, we’re also a very big believer in good eye contact, especially in business. We perceive people with good eye contact to be more trustworthy, honest and reliable, while those who are looking away are perceived to be less self-confident and skilled.

Humour rules
We take business seriously, but it just may not always look like it. Australians perceive humour as an important personal characteristic and are wary of people to take things too seriously.  Even when things are looking dire, Australians like to lighten the mood with a joke or humorous aside.  Think of it as our way of relieving stress, but it doesn’t mean we won’t work hard.

It’s all about the relationship
Australians want to work with people who get the job done right and quickly, but we also don’t want to work with “dickheads”. The professional relationship between two people doing business is paramount in Australia. It can make or break a business arrangement, or determine whether a referral is given or not.