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Hard yakka in Oz

Sie nennen ihr Land "Oz", sich selbst "Aussies" und ihren Slang "Strine". Klingt nicht gerade nach Oxford-Englisch, was die Australier da sprechen. Doch wer geschäftlich auf dem Kontinent zu tun hat, kommt zur Not auch mit seinem Schulenglisch durch. Viel wichtiger ist es, den richtigen Ton zu treffen. Denn Eigenlob löst in Australien das "Lange-Mohnblume-Syndrom" aus.
"G'day, mate. I'm Professor Dr Schmidt from Hamburg. I'm Germany's leading expert in waste recycling methods and I've come to Sydney to show you how you can improve your systems here down under.

An introduction like that is probably not going to get you very far in Australia: "G'day, mate" is certainly a typical Australian greeting between people who know each other well, but it is not appropriate in business situations. Better would be simply "Good morning" or "Good afternoon". Although Australians are less formal than Germans, this does not mean they are informal. Americans often say that Australians are like people from the west coast of the US: easy going but nevertheless polite

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"Professor Dr" may well be the way you refer to yourself at home, but Australians do not put the same weight on titles as Germans do. You will be judged more by what you do and how you behave than by your qualifications. Also, when addressing business partners, titles such as Dr or Mr are usually put aside very quickly in favour of first names. Try introducing yourself with both names ("Good morning, I'm Elke Schmidt") and wait for your Australian partner to offer the use of first names

You may well be Germany's leading expert but one thing Australians are not keen on is people boasting or "getting too big for their boots". They have a natural affection for the little man (the "underdog"), rather than the big guy. One aspect of this is the "tall poppy syndrome" - the habit of criticising or "cutting down" successful people who think that they are better than everyone else. Success itself is OK; boasting is not. So be careful with your self-praise

"I've come to show you ..." - well, let's be honest, this sentence wouldn't go down well in any culture. Who likes an outsider coming in and thinking that they know everything better? Further, Australians do not share the automatic Germanic respect for the expert. "Down under" is certainly a common colloquial term for Australia or New Zealand, but it's not be advisable for visitors to use it in a business situation. It would potentially sound disrespectful and condescending

A better, more neutral introduction, would therefore be something like: "Good morning. I'm Elke Schmidt from Hamburg and I'd like to share with you some of our experiences in Germany of dealing with waste disposal, and to hear about your experiences here in Sydney."

Other points worth remembering about working with Australians are: Your Australian hosts will regard it as essential to pay for lunch, dinner or other entertainment when you are a visitor (unless, of course, your company is hosting a major presentation)

There is an overwhelmingly positive perception of Germans and Germany in Australia. However, German is no longer a major foreign language at high schools. The emphasis shifted in the 1960s from European to Asian languages

Australia is a technically very sophisticated country. People expect a high level of electronic communication and presentations. Everyone has a mobile phone and PC

Australian business culture has become very Americanized with lots of unpaid overtime and an emphasis on political correctness and non-discrimination. However, women are still grossly underrepresented at the higher levels of big companies

Australians tend to be more direct in their expressions of views than the British and enjoy lively discussions

Australians are passionate about sport, and it may be sensible to know which events are on. No business gets in the way of the major events (cricket, horse racing, Australian Rules football, rugby league etc.). A lot of corporate entertainment is based on attending sports events

During the "summer silly season" from mid-December to the end of January you may have difficulty reaching your business partner because he or she is at the beach

Finally, remember that in business dealings, Australians tend to be solution-oriented. They like to look for "win-win" solutions, in which everyone gains - including the bottom line of the company's finances. Indeed, "The bottom line is ..." - meaning "the most important point is ..." - is a very common business expression

Aussie Talk

barbie = barbecue
bonzer = terrific, great
cost a bundle = cost a lot
hard yakka = hard work
it's my shout = it's my turn to pay
no worries = no problem; or: you're welcome (as a reply to "thank you")
suit = a businessperson (used negatively)
under the pump = under pressure

Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 28.02.2003