Doing Business in Australia

How to…

  Use Business English for discussing problematic issues

  Use adverbs for commenting and stating a point of view

  Use common words for workplace emails and Business English

  Provide updates or information in an email

  Be Polite/ Diplomatic

Cultural tips

Business in Australia ESLTS



How to…


Use Business English for discussing problematic issues


Our primary concern is . . .

The crux of the matter is . . .

As I see it, the most important thing is . . .

The main problem we need to solve is . . .

We really need to take care of . . .

It all comes down to this:What is the main problem?

What is the real issue (here)?

I think the major problem is . . .


Adapted from:



Use adverbs for commenting and stating a point of view


We use these all the time in natural speech to add meaning and impact to what we want to express. 

Basically = essentially, overall; used for giving the most important fact or main point.

Basically, the new government in Germany means continued stability for Europe.

We basically have to top spending so much money in order to save!


Practically = almost, virtually.

You've practically eaten the whole cake!

I've practically achieved my dream of doing a job I love!


Obviously = clearly, naturally: used when you expect the person to know something already or to agree with what you are saying.

Obviously, we would love to go first class to Europe but we can only afford premium economy.

Tim obviously loves Joanna a lot as he bought her a car!


Apparently = evidently; to report something you've heard or read.

Apparently, it's going to be sunny and warm on the weekend.

Julie and Tom are apparently getting divorced.


Ultimately = finally; in the end, when everything possible has been considered.

Ultimately, we want you to be able to understand the Australian accent.

I want to help you pass the test but ultimately you have to do the work yourself.


Realistically = in truth, in all honesty.

Realistically (speaking), we could finish the job within 3 weeks.

John can't realistically expect to learn to speak Spanish fluently in 2 months!


Fortunately/ Unfortunately = luckily, unluckily/ sadly.

Fortunately, it didn't rain during the Grand Final but unfortunately it was really windy.


Actually = really, in fact, strange as it may seem, at the present moment.

I'm actually looking for a new job so that's good timing that you asked me to work for you.

Actually, I have to go out now so can I call you back.

Paul actually remembered my birthday for once!


Use common words for workplace emails and Business English









advise, inform, indicate

Please advise/ inform us/ indicate if you can attend the meeting.

go to


Please advise if you will be attending the meeting.


assist/ assistance

We can assist you with your request for English tuition.

talk about


I will call you to discuss the job information.


regarding, in/with regard(s) to, in reference to, in connection to

I am calling regarding your job application.



I'm writing to enquire about the advertised administration position.



Did you receive the email?



Please provide your name, address, and contact details on this form.

ask for 


The director requested the documents last week.



Please confirm the payment has been received.

be sorry


I apologise for the delay in responding to your email.



The delivery is delayed.


respond to/ response

He will respond to your questions after the presentation.



She cannot attend today's presentation. However, she will be attending the conference tomorrow.

oops sorry


Unfortunately, he is unable to attend the meeting.



Please acccept my sincere apologies for cancelling at the last minute. I hope it has not caused too much inconvenience.


Provide updates or information in an email



  • I am writing to inform you/confirm that the client would now like to meet on 24th June.
  • Please be advised that the meeting has been cancelled.
  • I am writing to advise that we cannot proceed with the job due to logistical issues.
  • It has been decided/arranged/confirmed that due to costing issues the project will not be going ahead.



  • I'd just like to let you know/confirm that the list of costs will be ready on Monday.
  • I'm writing to tell you that the meeting has been postponed until next week.
  • To let you know, the meeting will be on tomorrow.
  • I'm writing to give you the heads up on the project costing being approved.



  • Just writing to let you know that I won't be in tomorrow as I have a doctor's appointment.
  • Just a quick email to let you know that John can't make it to the meeting.
  • Letting you know (that) I'll bring the list of costs in tomorrow.
  • To let you know, the meeting isn't on.
  • Giving you the heads up on the meeting/job going ahead.
  • FYI we are starting at 3pm. [FYI: For Your Information]



Be Polite/ Diplomatic


can – could, will – might/ may

just, perhaps, maybe, possibly, a bit/ slightly, a slight..

seems/ appears/ looks like, unfortunately, hopefully, I'm afraid

Compare the more direct sentences on the left with the polite or 'diplomatic' sentences on the right:

  • Can I reschedule our meeting? — Could I reschedule our meeting?
  • We will be late for the dinner so start without us. — We might be a bit late for the dinner so please start without us.
  • I can't come tomorrow. — It looks like I won't be able to make it tomorrow, unfortunately.
  • We have a problem with the costing for the project. — There seems to be a slight problem with the costing for the project.
  • Are the documents ready? — I just wanted to confirm if the documents were ready?


Now compare the 2 emails below: (1) is more informal, direct and with a negative or angry tone, whereas as (2) is more polite, positive and appropriate for a business email:

(1) Hi John,

I got your email about the proposed project.

As I told you, we can't agree to the project and costing until you tell us exactly what you want.

How can we send you a proposal if we don't know what you want us to do – we are not mind-readers!?

Hurry up and get your act together because we want the job but can't move until you provide detailed, clear information.



(2) Dear John,

Thank you for your email regarding the proposed project.

We would be very happy to send through a plan with costing for the proposal as previously discussed.

At this stage, if you could you possibly provide a detailed outline of what you require, including the budget, time-frame and all project information at your earliest convenience.

We greatly look forward to working together with you on this project.

Best regards,



Cultural tips


Here are some cultural tips for business interactions in Australia. 

1. Be on time for business appointments, or a bit early. Australians aren't always, but it does make a good impression and they build trust and confidence in you.

2. Australians are open, quite direct and factual in business – emotional, drawn-out or aggressive/confrontational approaches will not be well-received.

3. 'Small talk' before a meeting, being friendly at work and forming relationships and 'mateship' with people are defintely valued.

4. In negotiations we do not 'bargain' like in some countries and usually from the initial proposal there will be little room for negotiation and things proceed quite quickly. 

5. Although serious overall, meetings are fairly relaxed and people often use humour and lots of interesting expressions: 'the project has gone pear-shaped,' or 'she's a hard nut to crack!'

6. You can be direct, give your opinion and disagree and people will respect what you say – but keep it pretty short!

7. People in different job-roles are regarded and respected as equals. Therefore, if you treat people differently based on status, background achievements, education, etc., it is not 'a good look.' We do not like showing off or big-noters and people who are full or hype and exaggerate. This is the 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' that exists in Australia.

8. People shake hands in meeting/greeting and when saying goodbye – for men and women. They do not give gifts to each other in the business world.

9. We use the informal first name basis to address people, not Mr or Mrs, etc.

10. People like their personal space and respect others. There is also the custom of public self and private self/life, so if someone is cautious to ask you out socially, it just may take some time.