How To Do Business When You're In Australia - A British Linguist's 22-Point Note To The Rest Of The World

South Sydney and England Rugby League players Sam and George Burgess drink beers during the Fifth Ashes Test between Australia and England at SCG. Picture: Getty Images)

You can tell a a lot about people, and their countries, by what other people say about them.

The key to contact with Australia is to accept the concept of mateship, according to British linguist Richard D. Lewis, the author of When Cultures Collide.

He says the heat in Australia produces a tendency toward apathy and procrastination in many areas, expressed in a general laissez-faire attitude: “No worries” or “She’ll be all right in the end”.

“The darker side of Australian life is not to be discounted — they consume more alcohol and painkillers per capita than any other English-speaking country,” he writes.

“Their racial policy has been largely unsuccessful, and the Aborigines are in dire straits as a result.

“Yet Australians remain very positive human beings. Few can match their friendliness and even fewer their spontaneous generosity.”

Here’s Lewis’s tips. Overall, Australia concerns itself with:

  • A (hopeful) tendency to look to integration with nearby Asian countries as a solution to Australia’s economic difficulties.
  • Encouraged by a “Pacific Rim” mentality.
  • Some ambivalence about Anglo-Celtic-American ties and how this clashes with Asian and Mediterranean immigrant views.
  • Monarchy or republic?
  • Tendency to want to settle the Aboriginal question.

The hot tips for doing business in Australia

  • Show you are willing to be “one of the mates”.
  • While remaining law-abiding,show a healthy disrespect for many laws and too much government interference.
  • Cut through red tape at every opportunity.
  • Always lead from the front and never ask anyone to do anything you would not do yourself.
  • Roll up your sleeves and help people to move tables.
  • Develop deep friendships whenever this is appropriate.
  • Moderate swearing is not taboo.
  • Sarcasm and irony are popular,but when exercising them,let kindness shine through.
  • Praise Australia — there is no reason why you shouldn’t!
  • They are free spenders,so be careful not to appear stingy.
  • The “tall poppy syndrome” is a reality. Ride too high and the Australians will soon cut you down.
  • Australians like cheerfulness and affability. Respond accordingly.
  • Be prepared to chat amiably with relative strangers.
  • Get a feel for how Australian males treat women. It is a rather special relationship.
  • Give parties regularly if this is appropriate.Australians often mix business with social activities.
  • You can make good progress with Australians if you let your hair down while drinking and socialising.


  • Giving brusque orders or any other form of arrogance.
  • Criticising anyone for not dressing smartly or for failing to observe etiquette. Australians love informality.
  • Intruding into their leisure time.At 4:00 or 5 PM. They are usually thinking about the pub or the beach.
  • Using flowery or obscure speech.
  • Boasting about your past achievements.
  • Referring to their convict past; let them bring up the subject.

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