International students and interns are often a bit concerned about Australian etiquette once they arrive here, especially when it comes to workplace etiquette. Reality is that etiquette changes considerably from culture to culture and it may be valuable to understand what is considered polite in Australia so you don’t get frustrated or embarrassed when you start your internship and establish a social life in Australia. We have you covered and selected a few etiquette rules that will help you adapt to the Australian culture:
- Always stick to the left side of a road if you are driving. The same if you are walking on a street, stopping on an escalator, or walking down or upstairs. This way people can pass you if they are in a rush. It is considered impolite if you block people’s way.
- Spitting in public is considered rude.
- Forming a line/ queue is expected when there is any demand for an item or when waiting to board public transport.
- People value personal space. When there is space available, try to stay at an arm’s length away from people and say “sorry” or “excuse me” if you need to invade that space for some reason.
- It is common to hold doors for people behind you or someone carrying an item.
- Littering is not only considered extremely impolite, but an offense in Australia. Keep your rubbish with you until you find a suitable bin to dispose it.
- Treat people with equal respect and use ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ with everyone.
- Respect the natural environment, wildlife and land of Australia, as it is very important for most Australians.
Bars, Restaurants and Social Meetings
- Tipping is not necessary in Australia as it is in other places like the USA. People normally tip in upscale restaurants or if the service was exceedingly good.
- To call over a waiter do not wave or yell. Try to make eye contact and gently say “excuse me” as they pass by.
- BYO means “Bring Your Own” and it means you are allowed to bring your own bottle of wine or drinks to a restaurant, bar or social gathering. This is very common and you may be requested to bring your own drinks if you have a BBQ event with friends for example.
- Be punctual. It is not considered polite if you arrive too early or too late for a social event.
- Offer help to clean up after the meal with your host.
- Complain or yell at staff members in restaurants is very impolite. Most customers will merely refuse to revisit an establishment after bad food or service.
- Australians are quite direct and clear-cut in their business communication, explaining their ideas and point of view, but also respecting other ideas.
- Handshakes are the best way to greet males and females.
- Respect Business Hours (9am to 5pm) and make sure you are punctual on daily basis and for meetings as well.
- Australians normally start business meetings with a few minutes of social chat, using impersonal topics such as weather or sports.
- Humour and informal language are common practices in Australia, so there is no need to be overly formal at a workplace.
- Despite their casual approach, meetings are still taken very seriously by Australians.
- Everyone is welcome to bring their ideas, despite social status or hierarchy at the business.
Published on by Daniele L.