Communicating with a Diverse Culture

It comes as no surprise that Australia is a multi-cultural melting pot. There are tell-tale signs of this cohabitation everywhere. There is a tendency for you to stumble upon an Indian Restaurant or Greek fare dotted along every suburb! There are tons of grocery stores that are specific to certain cultures selling spices and products that have traveled all the way from their home-land.

Australia has opened its doors to the world and welcomed nationalities from across the globe to make the land down under their home. So how do you understand the cultural do’s and don’ts while communicating with the citizens of this country?

Australia, by and large, lays a lot of emphasis on Individualism. The key to getting anywhere with communication in the country is to be direct, honest and straightforward. You must keep in mind the cultural sensitivities of not just the masses but also the ethnic group you are communicating with.

For example, if you are communicating with the Chinese community that now resides within the country, your communication will be tailored to incorporate both – the norms of Australian culture and Chinese culture.

Understand that although a lot of the members of the Chinese community are still brought up with traditional values, they are still very much Australian at heart. Do not be patronizing in your tone, making it seem like they are different from the rest just because they are Chinese.
You can be subtle in your communication, keeping in mind that the number four is one they consider unlucky hence avoiding it in offers or in design elements. Even the fact that white and black may seem like sophisticated corporate colours to most Australians but to the Chinese they are colours of mourning. Businesses usually make the mistake of plastering red all over their communication when talking to the Chinese community. This can have a negative impact as the Chinese may feel that you have not researched enough into their community and you are trying too hard. There are millions of colours in the universe, go experiment!

Most Australians, especially the businessmen, believe that talking about your work in great detail, as though you are proud of it, comes across as rude and un-called for. You will notice that they shrug off compliments about their accomplishments and often under-play their work.

However, a lot of ethnic communities would feel that a lack of appreciation would mean that you did not like the work. It is important to have an open line of communication. Do appreciate the group you are communicating with, giving them credit where it is due. However, do not exaggerate to a point that it would come across as offensive. Strike a balance as balance is the key.

If you are an international business that is looking to communicate with Australian masses, accept the fact that you are not a local. Trying to use the Australian slang or lingo will neither be accepted nor appreciated.

The key goal here is to understand, to dig deep and to know the market you are getting into.
Know their superstitions, know their belief systems and be sensitive towards them. If your target group is a mixture of different cultures, strike a balance between the two.

For example: If you are opening a new restaurant in one of the suburbs of Sydney, know the residents of the neighbourhood. If a majority of them are Indians, who believe that the cow is sacred, plastering adverts that talk about your banging beef burger would surely play on the subconscious of the Indians and cause a bit of hesitance towards your establishment. However, Australians love a good steak with a fry-up, so not promoting your beef delicacy would also seem like a cardinal sin.

So how do you strike a balance? Simple, you promote delicious burgers with meat agreeable to both communities!

It’s this simple act of being sensitive towards cultural differences that take your business a long way.

Be smart with your communication. Don’t force fit your communication with cultural references, be subtle.

It can be tricky sometimes, and being sensitive to every single community in a culturally diverse nation like Australia would leave you with practically no creative space for communication.

A few things to keep in mind

Don’t make pleasing everyone your mission; just try avoiding displeasing anyone.

Avoid mocking a particular community to humour another in order to increase sales.

Embrace individualism and have a direct approach with your target group, but don’t get bogged down by all these pointers.

As long as you are factually correct and your aesthetics are in place, communicating within a diverse community play safe until you get the hang of it!

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