A Guide to
Australian Business Etiquette

Known for its laid-back lifestyle and friendly locals, Australia holds a distinct set of business etiquette norms that contribute to successful professional interactions. In Australia, business etiquette is a mix of formal and informal, which is why it's important to understand when it's appropriate to be more casual and when formality is required.

Comprehending and adhering to these customs is crucial for building strong relationships and achieving business goals in the Land Down Under. In this guide, we'll explore various aspects of business etiquette in Australia, ranging from punctuality to dining customs.



Tall poppy syndrome


Business cards

Business attire


Business meetings etiquette

Dining etiquette

Things to know about doing business in Belgium

Finding success in Belgian business culture

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Even though Australians are generally very laid-back people, punctuality is still very important in business settings. Arriving late can be viewed as a waste of others' time or a lack of commitment, so it's important to arrive early or on time for all meetings and appointments.


Since Australia is an egalitarian society, workplace hierarchies aren't as strict or regimented as they are in other countries. Decision-making and company culture are more centered around consensus and open communication, with all levels from managers to subordinates being involved and having a say in decisions. This means sometimes it can take longer for meetings or decisions to be finalized, but be patient with the process—ensuring that everyone has a say results in more nuanced, thoughtful decisions.

Tall poppy syndrome

In general, Australian people are known for their gregarious, easygoing, friendly attitudes. But that extroverted personality takes a backseat in business settings. In Australia, there's a popular term called 'tall poppy syndrome,' which refers to successful people facing criticism due to boasting about or showcasing their own success.

Since Australian society is rooted in egalitarianism—the notion that all are equal and no one should rise above others—Australians tend to downplay their successes in some areas of life, including business. They're very modest about their own work and also appreciate and admire it in kind from outside parties, so visitors should avoid being too boastful.


Greetings in Australian business contexts are informal and relaxed, usually just consisting of a firm handshake, eye contact, and a nice smile. Your Australian counterpart may greet you with a standard 'G'day!', to which you can respond in kind or with a regular 'hello!' Be friendly and open, avoiding overly formal greetings, as they can be perceived as distant.

Addressing others is also more informal. It's okay to start off with first names instead of titles, but keep the tone professional and respectable.

Business cards

While establishing business relationships in Australia, it's customary to exchange business cards. However, there is no exact ritual or procedure for this—it's more about establishing a connection and opening up business communication. Practice general politeness when giving your business card to someone else and receiving theirs by taking a minute to inspect the card, note the information, and store it away safely.

Business attire

The Australian business dress code leans towards smart casual, reflecting the country's relaxed culture. For men, this might mean a collared shirt and trousers or a conservative business suit, while women can opt for dresses or blouses paired with slacks or skirts. Color-wise, it's best to stick to dark, neutral colors.

On the flip side, you may encounter workers in more tropical areas, like Brisbane, swapping out the slacks for more casual Bermuda shorts. Take your cues from how people around you at the office are dressing, but if you're unsure, casual, smart dress attire is the safest route.


Corporate gift-giving is not very common in Australian culture, so it's unlikely you'll find yourself in a situation where you'll need to get or present a gift to anyone. You can bring a small gift from your own country as a nice gesture, but it's not necessary or expected.

If you're invited to someone's home, though, bringing a small gift, like a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, is a thoughtful gesture.

Business meetings etiquette

The business meeting brings together the formal and informal sides of Australian business culture, requiring different levels of formality or casual behavior at different stages. Here's the standard rundown for Australian business meetings:

Scheduling and arrival

  • Reach out via email, letter, or phone to set up a meeting in advance.
  • Arrive on time and prepared in smart, casual attire.

Greetings and seating

  • Greet everyone with handshakes, smiles, and eye contact, showing equal respect for all present.
  • Exchange business cards if necessary.
  • Follow the lead of the host for the seating arrangements.

Discussion and negotiation

  • Be attentive during the meeting, maintaining eye contact to show that you're engaged.
  • Be patient, as the lengthy discussions and debates mean that meetings can sometimes run or go slightly offtrack.
  • Since personal relationships are such a strong part of Australian business culture, don't be surprised if conversations occasionally veer off to personal topics and social conversations. Be patient, enjoy it, and go along for the conversational ride.
  • As mentioned above, Australian companies have a flat hierarchy, so expect that during debates, most people will try to speak up and contribute. Be respectful and appreciative of everyone's time and contributions.
  • Be modest.
  • Don't be surprised by blunt, direct language, as Australians don't like to beat around the bush and prefer getting straight to the point. As everyone's input is valued and considered, lower employees often feel comfortable speaking their minds around higher-ups.

Conclusion and follow-up

  • End meetings by thanking everyone for their time and input.
  • Send a follow-up email thanking them again and outlining anything important from the meeting, such as action items and deadlines.

Dining etiquette

Australians view business meals as opportunities to build rapport, strengthen personal relationships, and discuss matters beyond work. While you can talk about work and business opportunities at these dinners, the conversation is generally more casual, sharing personal stories and experiences. Steer clear of potentially controversial topics, like religion or politics, until your Australian counterpart leads the conversation in that direction.

Table manners in Australia are similar to those in Europe. When dining out with your Australian colleagues, follow standard dining etiquette, such as:

  • Waiting for everyone to be seated before starting to eat
  • Waiting for the host or most senior person to start the meal
  • Being ready to split the bill and contribute your share

Another key part of post-work Australian culture is going out for drinks at a pub. If you go out drinking with colleagues, it's customary for everyone to pick up a round (known as a 'shout').

As a major coffee-drinking country, Australians also like to hold casual business meetings or midday outings over a cup of coffee at a local cafe. Don't be surprised at the casual nature; it's very common and also gives you a chance to experience Australia's famed coffee culture.

Things to know about doing business in Australia

  • Colorful language: Don't be surprised if your Australian counterparts use more colorful language or terms when talking. However, as an outsider, you should refrain from following suit until you've gotten to know your colleagues better
  • Early birds: Australians are early risers and prefer to begin their work days earlier as well in order to wrap up faster. Expect to hit the ground running early in the day, with many businesses starting work at around 8:00 or 8:30 am. But, in turn, work finishes earlier in the afternoon.
  • Slang: Australian slang is world-renowned. But while you may be familiar with some common everyday slang terms, like 'barbie' for barbecue, you may not have heard Australian business slang. Here's a list of some common sayings you may hear around an Australian office:

            Mate: Friend or colleague

            Legend: Someone who helps you out

            Pull/Chuck a sickie: Taking a sick day (typically when you're not actually sick)

            Yeah, nah: No

            Nah, yeah: Yes

            Presso: Presentation

            Raincheck: Leave it for another day

            Arvo: Afternoon

            No worries: Not a problem

            She’ll be right: It will be okay

Finding success in Australian business culture

By understanding the balance of formal and casual business etiquette in Australia, you'll be more successful in the Land Down Under.

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