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Learning the Business Customs of Australia

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In general, Australians tend to be very direct business people. They communicate in a matter of fact way and make eye contact. They also do not need to develop strong relationships with the people they do business with. They usually will not speak in an uptight way, and may even joke with people they hardly know. Australians are typically approachable and not pretentious people, and do not admire those who are.

In terms of meetings, appointments are necessary. They are not very hard to schedule, but should be done about a month in advance. Business hours are generally 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Refrain from scheduling during January, as that is the Australian summer, and many people are on vacation. It looks better to show up a few minutes early or on time rather than late to a meeting. If you will be late, just call and say so, and it will probably be overlooked.

Australian meeting tones tend to be mellow and relaxed even though these meetings are taken very seriously. They do not have a hard time saying no or letting you know that they disagree with what you are saying, so be prepared for honesty.

If you are making a presentation during your meeting, you should try to be as direct and honest as possible. Try not to hype anything up or make obvious exaggerations. You should back up the points you are making with facts and figures, and do not bore them with details or long, drawn-out stories. Presenting your point with pressure will not go well.

Negotiations will tend to be very brief and do not go through much bargaining. Decisions are usually made from the head of the company, but they will like to consult many of the other people who work there, which can take a while.

Small talk is usually not executed in the Australian business setting. They will probably not ask you many questions on your background or personal life, so refrain from asking them.

Business cards are usually exchanged after introductions. Some people in the Australian business world will not have business cards, so if you are not given one, that probably just means the other person does not use them. For business attire, it is customary to wear dark, conservative suits in Melbourne and Sydney. If you are doing business in Brisbane or other hot areas, business attire is much less formal, and you could see business people wearing shorts.

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