D for Deprecation
Self-deprecation, that is. Australia is renowned for self-deprecation. OK, I cheated a little on the D. Sue me. We don’t like to boast and we’ll rip down (our famed “tall poppy syndrome“) those who we deem to be doing so. This is one of the biggest differences between the USA and Australia in the business world. Australians don’t naturally run around saying how great we are (although we are getting more Americanised with each passing year), while in the USA it is expected. Just cultural differences, neither is right or wrong! Consequently, when involved in international business each has to be aware of these completely opposing traits!
While researching for examples for this article, I came across the following:
Self-deprecation is a basic character flaw or personality defect
What? It isn’t a basic character flaw, it is one of the basic forms of humour in Australia! Michael needs to travel more, I think! He goes on to say “Remember, the individual with self-deprecation truly believes in their own inadequcy (sic).“ Really? Not a bloody hope in hell, mate, we just like to laugh at ourselves!
Arhhhhhhhhhh, here is a more enlightened reference! A Global Etiquette site!
- Australians are very down to earth and always mindful of not giving the impression that they think they are better than anyone else.
- They value authenticity, sincerity, and loathe pretentiousness.
- Australians prefer people who are modest, humble, self- deprecating and with a sense of humour.
- They do not draw attention to their academic or other achievements and tend to distrust people who do.
- They often downplay their own success, which may make them appear not to be achievement-oriented.
Now that sounds much better!
All of which, of course, makes actually publishing as I do rather difficult. After all, what do I do on our About page? In Aussie terms, I blow my own trumpet, not at all attractive in our culture and actually very difficult to do for me! As Barb19 pointed out, we call our doctors by their first name.
If we meet someone and the first thing that person does is tells us how many degrees they’ve got and how wonderful they are at their job, just as it says above we will wonder what the hell that person is trying to cover up about themselves! Why do they have this need to tell me all this stuff? Show, don’t tell. The flip side is Americans think we haven’t done anything because we don’t say anything about what we have done! How Australians manage job hunting in the USA I’ve got no idea! I do know of situations where American managers have been sent out to Australia and almost had a riot on their hands with Australian staff not appreciating the management style. I am sure this has happened the other way too!
I loved these business tips (from the Global Etiquette site):
If you make a presentation, avoid hype, making exaggerated claims, or bells and whistles.
Present your business case with facts and figures. Emotions and feelings are not important in the Australian business climate.
It reminded me of doing a presentation course when I was employed by a large USA corporation. If I prepared a presentation in line with the teaching for an Australian audience, the audience would have switched off on the opening slide! I actually contacted their training people to suggest they include a little more Cultural Intelligence in their training as it was very USA-centric. After all, they also had a Global Etiquette site we were all supposed to be familiar with before travelling to other locations around the globe!
Aussies poke fun at ourselves. We see it as a GOOD trait to be able to laugh at ourselves. So beware, because if you are from a country that sees that as a character flaw, you might just get pipped at the post when competing in sport or business!
We are pretty good at deprecation too, to be honest, especially of our politicians!
What about your country? Is self-deprecation seen as a good or bad character trait?
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