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Communicate with customers & Colleagues from diverse background. Week (13). Australia Culture. CHARACTERISTICS: 42% of the population were born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. About 17% of the population speak a language other than English at home. 

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australia culture
Australia Culture
  • 42% of the population were born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas.
  • About 17% of the population speak a language other than English at home. 
  • In the last ten years more than 50,000 business migrants have settled in Australia.
australian customs
Australian Customs
  • A firm, friendly handshake is the customary greeting here. It's not necessary, though, to offer to shake hands with a woman unless she offers her hand first. 
  • Women friends may kiss when greeting each other.
  • When greeting someone at a distance, a wave is customary but yelling is not. 
  • Be prepared to exchange business cards, but this practice is not as rigid as in, say Japan or some European countries.
  • In business meetings, eye contact is important. 
  • When addressing audiences, use erect posture and modest gestures. 
  • Australian men do not consider it good form to show much emotion. 
  • Good friends may pat one another on the back, but there is not much physical expressiveness of emotion beyond that. It is considered unmanly. 
  • Even if you are friends, winking at a woman is considered rude.
  • Guests of honour usually sit at the right of the host. Eating is done in the so-called "continental style" - that is, with the fork held constantly in the left hand the knife in the right.
  • To indicate you have finished eating lay the knife and fork in parallel on your plate. While eating, keep your elbows off the table. 
  • A yawn must always be covered with the hand, accompanied by "Excuse me". 
  • Like the British, respect is given for queues, or lines of people.
  • Never jump into a line: always go politely to the end and wait your turn. 
  • Sportsmanlike gestures e.g., being a good winner, or loser; congratulating a good performance, of any kind are liked and appreciated because good sportsmanship is highly respected. 

Australians are known to be warm, friendly, and informal and dislike overly expressive or "gushy" behaviour in any form. 

  • The more popular and common gestures will probably be known and understood in Australia.
  • Japanese Culture
  • Japan is one of Australia's most important tourist markets.
  • However, Australia is in danger of losing its popularity.
  • Some of the problems may include:
  • Australia can be too expensive - it is cheaper to visit Los Angeles.
  • Japanese are unhappy about the insistence on visas for short term visitors.
  • The lack of variety is sometimes criticised.
  • Japanese are often travelling on a tour for their honeymoon or business. 
  • Generally prefer twin bedded and smoking rooms.
  • Seafood and vegetables are important to their diet 
  • like quality food ingredients, prepared simply.

CUSTOMSAs most visitors already know, the graceful act of bowing is the traditional greeting for the Japanese.

  • However, the Japanese have also adopted the Western practice of shaking handswith a light grip and perhaps with eyes averted.


  • The reasons are that a firm grip to them suggests aggression and direct eye contact is considered slightly intimidating.
  • Many well-travelled Japanese are carefully studying Western ways and therefore may surprise you with a firm grip and direct eye contact.
  • Meanwhile, to show respect for their customs, it would flatter them to offer a slight bow when being introduced. 

DOING BUSINESS WITH THE JAPANESEThe seemingly simple act of exchanging business card represents not only one's identity but also one's station in life.

  • Here are some tips on what you may encounter:
  • The business card is held with both hands, grasped between the thumbs and forefingers. 

It is extended forward in a respectful gesture with the printing pointed considerately toward the other person. A slight bow is made at the same time.

  • The Japanese will take the card, again with both hands and a reciprocal bow, and then read the card carefully.

This may be followed by another slight bow. 

  • After this sequence, the western handshake may occur or, in difference to the westerner, the greeting may begin with handshaking and then evolve to bowing and the above ritual or exchanging business cards
  • When westerners take the business card from a Japanese, they should avoid examining it casually and quickly putting it into a coat or shirt pocket.

Examine it carefully, and then place it on the table in front of you for further reference.

  • Avoid scribbling notes on the back of the card. This shows a certain measure of disrespect for something that represents a person's identity.


  • Avoid clapping a Japanese on the back, standing very close, any form of public kissing, or any prolonged physical contact.
  • On crowded public transportation, however, it is a different matter. People are accustomed to being jammed into tight spaces, as epitomised by the transit employees whose jobs consist of packing people into the public trains before the doors close.

When in meetings, periods of silence may occur. This is perfectly acceptable and customary. During these periods, the Japanese may even raise their eyes to look over the heads of others while contemplating.

  • Queues are generally respected
  • In crowded train and subway stations, huge volumes of people may cause touching and pushing. 
  • Because of the high regard for graciousness and restraint, one should not shout, raise the voice in anger, or exhibit any excessively demonstrative behaviour.

Among the Japanese, smiling often can cover a gamut of emotions: happiness, anger, confusion, apologies, or sadness.


American Culture

  • With a population of 260 million, the USA is an economic super power. Many Americans have high personal income and are keen travellers.
  • Australia is a favourite destination and the USA is one of the largest sources of visitors to Australia.


  • Expect top-class facilities and a high standard of service
  • Very inquisitive shoppers 
  • Want you to take time to answer all their questions 
  • Like being acknowledged as Americans 
  • Don't like excuses 
  • Like iced water upon being seated at a restaurant. 
  • Larger food proportions mean value for money.

Some differences between Americans and Australians. One major difference between Australians and Americans is that Americans are generally more concerned about standards of efficiency productivity, and profitability than Australians. 

  • At least in the past, Australians have been more easy going about standards. The "she'll be right mate" attitude is often seen as sloppy and negligent whereas Australians often view Americans as being overly fussy 'nit-pickers'.

The same applies to people performing a service. In the USA such people are seen as a professional carrying out a service.

  • Australians often see the way Americans behave towards service staff as being arrogant and to an Australian, the service offered in the USA may seem impersonal and automatic rather than what Australians would see as being "genuinely friendly".

A SIGNIFICANT CULTURAL DIFFERENCEAs we have seen, the differences between Australians and Americans can be overcome with improved cross-cultural training. In this way, those working in our service industries can learn to understand and appreciate these differences.


BODY LANGUAGEA firm handshake plus direct eye contact is the standard form of greeting in Canada. Men should shake hands with women if they offer their hand, but many women will just say "hello", perhaps with a nod of the head and not shake hands.

  • Distances are farther apart than in Latin America or the Far East. When conversing, people will stand about a half metre apart.
  • There is little or no casual touching. The only exceptions are that good male friends may occasionally pat the other's back, close relatives may put their arms around another's shoulder and good female friends may occasionally hug when greeting each other after long intervals

Good eye contact is important, whether it is during business or social conversation. In social situations, men will usually rise when women enter a room.


German Culture

  • Germans rank second on the list of the world's top tourist spenders. They enjoy high salaries and long holidays, 6-8 weeks per year. German tourists increase in number to Australia every year.
  • They enjoy remote areas and see more of Australia than any other nationality.
  • Germans have a reputation for being an industrious and ordered society where high achievement is valued. People are generally law abiding. They are generally well educated and well informed. 


  • Expect fast, efficient 'no-nonsense' service.
  • Want precise information, may be abrupt and not say please or thank you
  • Activities and entertainment may include visiting nature, national parks, zoos, aboriginal sites.


  • A fairly firm handshake is the custom among men, often with just one or two "pumps". Children and women will often offer their hand in greeting, too. Cheek kissing is rare.
  • Business cards are exchanged frequently.
  • Shaking hands with the other hand in a pocket is considered impolite. For this reason, small children are chastised for putting their hands in their pockets because it is considered disrespectful.

When arriving to meet a group of people, shake hands with each and every person.

  • Men rise when a woman enters the room, or when conversing with a woman. On the other hand, women may remain seated.
  • Never open a closed door without knocking first.
  • When acknowledging or signaling "thanks" to a crowd of people, Germans will often clasp their hands together and raise them high over their heads.
  • During operas or concerts, it is important to remain quiet and still. Coughing or restlessness is considered rude.

Men enter a restaurant before women, unless they are elderly or higher status. One reason is, according to the custom; the man is inspecting the restaurant to see if it is proper for a woman to enter.

  • When dining in some restaurants, if there are empty seats at your table and no other free tables, the maitre d' hotel may seat others with you. This is quite common in Germany - in fact, you can do the same if you arrive and there are no single free tables. There should be no obligation to carry on a conversation with others at the table unless both parties seem so inclined.

Never place your foot or feet on furniture.

  • At dinner parties don't drink until your host begins. When toasting, clink glasses only for special occasions, like a birthday. Men toast women, never vice versa.
  • When eating: the fork is held in the left hand: don't cut potatoes, pancakes, or dumplings with a knife because that suggests they are tough; rarely, if ever, eat with your fingers - that includes fruit and even sandwiches; hard rolls are often served at breakfast, and even these should be cut with a knife, not the fingers; smoke between courses only if you see others doing so.

A good general rule when eating is to watch and follow the actions of your German host. 

  • Chewing gum while conversing with another person is considered extremely impolite. As one German remarked, "To Germans it looks like a cow chewing on a cud."

United Kingdom Culture

  • On the European continent handshaking is common when meeting and departing. In the UK, where body language is more formal, it is less frequent.

When dining out, summon waiters at restaurants by raising the hands. To signal that you would like the cheque (called "the bill" here), make a motion with both hands as if you were signing your name on paper.In Scotland, unlike many European countries, eating on the street is considered acceptable.Loud conversations and any form of boisterousness in public places should be avoided.Avoid staring at someone in public. Privacy is highly valued and respected in Europe.The "queue" or line of people is considered almost sacred.


You must never "jump the queue", meaning to butt or push your way into a line of waiting people.If you smoke, it is the custom to offer cigarettes to others in your conversational group before lighting up.

  • Formal Meetings With RoyaltyPlan on meeting the Queen? Better be well prepared. When meeting royalty, the custom of bowing and curtsying is optional for outsiders. However, for men a slight inclination of the head would be appropriate and appreciated and women should curtsy by slightly bending one knee. As for handshaking with royalty, the rule is that they will make the first move. Never actually touch the Queen; even to gently guide her in some way.