National Cultural Profiles – Australia
National Cultural Profiles are your guide to the thinking patterns of all the world's major cultures. Below is an extract from the Australia profile
Introduction: Australia is the largest island in the world and the sixth biggest country in the world, yet it is one of the most sparsely populated places on earth. Geographical location and climatic conditions play a large part in shaping national character.
Self-image: The Australian self image is one of a “battler” - a person who had humble beginnings, but by sheer hard work, courage and a spirit of adventure conquered a huge, wild land and created a decent and prosperous society for self and family.
Concept of status: Australians are among the most democratic people in the world and any display of status symbols is risky. They love to cut people down in size.
Communication: Australia is the largest English speaking country in the southern hemisphere. Australian - the sixth largest variety of English (after American, British, Filipino, Indian and Canadian) - is a fascinating, young, vibrant, irreverent, humorous, inventive language. There are hardly any regional variations, no class pressures on one’s way of speaking, and people switch from broad to cultivated Australian at will.
Listening habits: It is inadvisable to be too serious or complicated. Australians are fond of jokes and anecdotes, preferably delivered in broad speech. A friendly and lively audience once they have decided to like you.
Leadership style: Australian managers must sit in the ring with the “mates”. From this position, once it is accepted that they will not pull rank, they exert more influence, as the semi-Americanised nature of Australian business requires quick thinking and rapid decision-making.
Cultural black hole: The Australian Cultural Black Hole is the Tall Poppy Syndrome. One version of this is: any Australian who achieves success will be brought down to size through a variety of abusive techniques. This leaves them either totally humiliated and regretting their achievements, or packing their bags and heading for those parts of the world where success is allowed to be overtly enjoyed.
How to empathise with them: Australians are totally cynical of people in power or with too much wealth, respecting the little person, “the battler”, rather than the winner. If you keep this in mind and don't oversell yourself or undersell your Australian hosts, success, friendship and good times will be yours down under.