A guide to communicating successfully in Australia

Studying and living in a new country requires personal social and cultural adjustments. Your diverse cultural background might be different from the typical Australian culture. Here are some guidelines to some common Australian practices.

Verbal Communication

Australians are generally open in their communication. Be confident in interacting with other speakers of English. Here are some tips to communicate with Aussies successfully.

Greeting others

When greeting others in Australia you say ‘hello’, ‘hi’ or ‘how’s it going?’ in a very relaxed and informal way. Australians usually greet people by their first names.


You may often find that Australians speak quickly and abbreviate or shorten words. For example, tutorial becomes tute and university becomes uni.
The Australian accent and Australian slang is sometimes difficult to understand. If you are unsure of what is said, say ‘pardon’ or ‘sorry, I can’t catch what you said.’

Take a look at this video which sums up Australians need to abbreviate everything.

Here’s a list of 125 Aussie slang words if you’re interested!

Requesting a service

When requesting service, use polite expressions such as, ‘I would like to’ or ‘Could I / May I ?’ instead of ‘I want(‘I want’ is considered rude and demanding).

Non-verbal communication (body language)

Non-verbal communication is often just as important as the words we say. Non-verbal communication involves body movements, posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, touch, appearance and physical distance. Try to adjust and adapt to some of the non-verbal communication skills in the multicultural Australian community. You can do this by using the SOFTEN technique.

S: Smile. Smiling creates a positive social atmosphere of reaching out and bonding.

O: Open stance. Maintaining open arms (i.e. not crossed against your chest) indicates openness and acceptance.

F: Forward lean. Leaning slightly forward during interactions indicates interest.

T: Touch. Touch is a type of communication that based on context. This means that different situations and people alter the meaning of the touch. A pat on the back can suggest encouragement in one scenario and a signal to get attention in another.

E: Eye contact. Making eye contact with the speaker in any face-to-face situation is essential.

N: Nod. A nod demonstrates you are actively listening.

Personal space is important. Maintain a reasonable social distance when interacting with others. An arm’s length is reasonable on most occasions.

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