D for Deprecation

View of beach at Surfers Paradise with skyline.

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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?

To catch up with the rest of the Global A – Z authors and articles, pop across to Pip’s  My Global A – Z and check out the many links!

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30 comments on “D for Deprecation

  1. […] https://teamoyeniyi.com/2012/01/26/d-for-deprecation Rate this: Share this:EmailPrintDiggFacebookTwitterTumblrLinkedInStumbleUponRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]


  2. Ok, I’m going to have to read your blog more often. Also, you’ve given me yet another reason I’d like to move Australia (not that I could ever afford to). Though I admit it would creep me out a little bit to not address people by their titles, or unfamiliar people by their surname since I view it as a sign of respect. Funny thing, cultural differences.

    I also wanted to mention that self-deprecation can be a good thing, but all things in moderation. Taken to extremes it is a sign of lack of self confidence and poor self-esteem; more or less what you would see from someone is depressed (clinically, not just a little sad).

    On a final note- since I couldn’t find a way to fit it into the WP forums (and feel free to delete this part of the post!) I just wanted to point out on the Answer/Ask a Question thread what I responded to was not the question of people having equal rights, but of people BEING equal since the question did not include the word “rights”. I figured I made it pretty clear, and I think you got that, but I just wanted to clarify since you responded people have equal rights. In that, we agree.


    • Firstly – no it is fine – I realised when I read your response that I hadn’t clarified well enough – which was why I made the brief follow-up without trying to sound as if we were hi-jacking the thread! We agree – that is the main thing! 🙂

      Thank you for visiting and I am glad you like our site! The self-deprecation think seems to be common to Canada and Australia – not sure why. It really is, in moderation, part of our humour and our culture.

      One day you may be able to afford to relocate!


  3. Hi,
    Interesting topic!
    I particulary like the comment:
    “They value authenticity, sincerity, and loathe pretentiousness”
    My impression of Australians (just from blogging and the news) never met any live Aussies is that they are very laid back!
    I worked for an American company once. theysent over some literature and sales script. My immediate rection “I can’t say that – my customers would run a mile!”
    It’s amazing how business cultures vary across the world 🙂


    • Exactly! Funny, because when I originally draft the above article I wrote “Aussies would run a mile” but thought I’d tone it down to I’d “lose them after the first slide”! Literally though, here, if I followed those “lessons” audience members would just leave. Funny, isn’t it, how environments can be so different. All that “I’m so wonderful” stuff just seems fake to us, when it probably isn’t, just too much hype attached to it for our tastes! 😆


  4. Interesting… seems to me they still have vestiges of their European past there… Nothing like a little self-deprecation to feel human again. 😉


    • I think the attitude has more to do with the first settlers escaping from the British class system and wanting to be as different as possible!! Perhaps you’ve been a little “Americanised” yourself? 😆


  5. I enjoy people who are “authentic.”

    If someone is constantly putting themselves down, it can be a signal that they want others to “lift them up” with flattery and compliments. That’s tiring and tiresome to me. So I don’t.

    I let them stay where they landed. 😉


    • I have read it takes Americans moving here a good two years to understand our humour! 😆 It might take you three or four, perhaps! 😉

      We certainly don’t see it as “putting ourselves down” – it is about being modest more than anything. Different perspectives, you see.


  6. Right On!


  7. Too bloody right, mate. I couldn’t help myself 🙂


  8. I really enjoyed reading this post. The quotes from the Global Etiquette are also right on for Canada. There’s no doubt about it, Canadians are more like Australians than they are like Americans. We don’t place much value on titles and we don’t suffer fools who put on airs gladly. We aren’t at all impressed by anyone who attempts to impress us and though we are polite, if they keep it up we will make fun of them.


    • Ahhh do hear tell them thar Canoooks are not like their southern neighbours.

      I think Canadians and Australians have very similar humour. My problem is I can’t tell a Canadian accent from an American accent, unless the American is from the south. I was constantly insulting one or the other! 😉 These days, I ask first!


  9. Great reflection – worth showing to my USA friends who are still trying to work us out. I’m currently reading my copy of “Cultural Intelligence.” I’ll certainly be recommending it around my circle.


  10. Hi Robyn, I do love this “character flaw” in the Australians. Just as I said in my “C is for Culture”, I also had to get used to calling the Doctors I work for by their first name, something unthinkable of in Portugal, where every second person is either an engineer or Doctor!!! Or they like to pretend to be… It´s so refreshing to be able to be yourself.


    • Most of us don’t even put our professional designations or degrees on our business cards – seen as a bit pretentious! I think that is gradully changing as we do more international business and other countries consider it important. I had to ask to have mine included, as it is not typical.

      You’ll have to swap tales with Barb over doctors! 😆

      I arrived in Australia in 1974 and I was HORRIFIED when the recruitment girl called me by my first name OVER THE PHONE!!! She hadn’t even MET me! How RUDE! 😆 Now, I don’t even know the surnames of half the people I work with.

      I remember one young co-worker asking when did we think people dating should exchange surnames! They’d probably exchanged bodily fluids before they exchanged surnames. Weird, but true!


      • First names! Could be generational, but I still bristle when a disembodied voice on the phone is using my first name and trying to sell me something.
        When they ask my name at the coffee counter I just tell them my initials. My entitlement as I join the grumpy old man club 😉


      • All I know was there was a definite difference between Australia and New Zealand back in 1974!

        The kids still call us Ma’am and Sir – I’m not sure how long THAT will last!


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