Lots of people have answered this question well in the past; but here a few of my ideas.
- Don’t insult us as a nation and don’t make unflattering comparisons. This seems so obvious it is a wonder I mentioned it; but people mistake Australians’ irreverent, iconoclastic and somewhat teasing sense of humour as a licence to insult us. The British are particularly prone to this and they don’t realise how many times Australians have heard the same tired old lines. You can get away with a certain blunt humour, but there is a line you shouldn’t cross, and it is not necessarily easy to pick up where that line is. If you can’t do this well, then stay away from it and just be polite. However, if an Australian insults your country of origin, then it is fair enough to do the same to them. Just don’t make it one of your opening gambits or hark on it too long.
- You need to treat everyone you meet as an equal, no matter what their job, gender or education. If you start treating some people like servants, or acting as if they are invisible, everyone will despise you for it.
- Don’t be too intense about politics or race relations or almost anything. If you do, you are likely to find that Australians will quickly turn it into a joke. We don’t like discussing very controversial things. This can be annoying to people from other cultures.
- We prefer people who are relaxed and don’t stand on their dignity. We have a fairly knockabout approach to one another and usually don’t like boastfulness or “virtue signalling”. We expect people to be able to laugh at themselves and give as good as they get. Don’t come back at someone who has said something you don’t like with intense anger, or they will back away from you and think you take yourself too seriously. You can however, have a “go at them”, if you can do it in a joking manner. This can be a real minefield for people unfamiliar with the culture. Our sense of humour is probably one of the most confronting things you might have to deal with. It is not uncommon for someone to call their best friend a” bastard” as a term of affection.
- Be generous, appreciative and informal. Return favours. If someone buys you a drink, you buy them one. If someone does you a favour, acknowledge it, even waiters. Don’t expect that you will be treated as being any more important than anyone else.
- Don’t moan and complain a lot. Australians don’t really want to hear about all the things you hate. They expect you to just get on with things and not feel you should have special privileges.
- Be honest. We really don’t like bullshit and will not trust someone who lies. This can be a problem for anyone from a culture where you need to “save face.” Australians prefer you own up to mistakes so that they can be fixed. Pretending they didn’t happen or blaming a subordinate for something you did wrong, will annoy them.