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Understanding Business Etiquette in Australia and New Zealand

A business trip to Australia or New Zealand means you need to realize that Australia and New Zealand are distinct countries. An Australian business trip will be casual, like the country. New Zealand, on the other hand, has greater formality:

  • Language: English is the official language of Australia. The two official languages of New Zealand are English and Maori. English is the language of day-to-day business within New Zealand.

  • Appropriate dress: Men wear a conservative dark business suit, white or colored dress shirt, and tie. Women are advised to dress simply but elegantly, wearing a dress or a skirt and blouse for business.

  • Greeting rituals: Greetings are casual, often consisting simply of a handshake and a smile. Australian and New Zealander handshakes are firm and quick. In both countries, women are expected to extend their hands to men first. Business cards are exchanged, but little or no ceremony is attached to the exchange.

  • Handling meetings: Meetings start on time and get to the point at hand without many preliminaries in both countries. In fact, in New Zealand, arriving a few minutes early is polite. Business is conducted with respect, honesty, directness, and a trace of a sense of humor, but avoid showing strong emotions. A brief amount of small talk is common.

  • Dining and entertaining: Table manners are Continental style, with meals often served family style.

    Meeting for tea is common. Afternoon tea is around 4 p.m. or between 6 and 8 p.m. and is an evening meal.

  • Giving and receiving gifts: Bringing a bottle of Australian wine, a box of chocolates, a book about one’s home country, or some other small item to your host’s dinner party is expected. Recipients customarily open gifts when they’re presented.

  • Social taboos: Being overly demonstrative with another man is a taboo for men in Australia and New Zealand. Also, trying your hand at saying “G’day, mate” is more likely to result in offense than anything else.

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