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seeking some advice on how i should behave in an australian work place with bosses

Community Member


I come from a different country and my english language is a second language and ive been living in australia just over a year now and I sometimes have trouble understanding the ways of things of the native english speakers and i just wanted to get some help from people to guide me to adapt in the working environment in australia. 

When i first got a part time job at a large retail chain i noticed some workers there are the in charges, team leaders, upper managers and i noticed usually these people don't try to get along with other working employees like myself and i presumed that they are the bosses with some responsibilities and didn't want to socialized at workplaces. One trouble im having at the workplace is getting along with these people in a way that is not intrusive of their positions but still getting along as an employee. Most of the time up till now it has been saying the greetings when i see them which  i have been having difficulty with. It would be something like, they would go "hello how are you" then i would respond with something like "good thanks how are you" and a lot of them afterwards don't look happy and wouldn't make eye contact with me and up until now i still don't understand what i am doing wrong here. I have been trying to be friendly at workplaces, cooperative, and supportive but when it comes to talking to the bosses i find it daunting and stressful. This is also my first time having a job and i just wanted to seek some advice on what i might be doing wrong and how i should behave at a workplace and in an australian setting if any of the people can help me out it would be greatly appreciated

4 Replies 4

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome


I've had 90 jobs or more and out of those only 2 bosses were very good at their managing abilities.


I was taught how to supervise correctly, as a prison officer, where you had to use the right words for your safety. 


So please dont take it personally, but the best advice I can give you is to learn a blend of your own words and character and a bit of aussie in there also... like "gidday mate". It doesnt matter to most aussies if you adopt some of our funny language. There is a book called "they're a weird mob" which is about an italian that came to Sydney to live and he wrote about this topic.


Once you have said hello once, there really isnt a need to repeat that during the day. if you feel uncomfortable simply say "hot day today boss" to break the silence.


Most Aussies accept new Australians well, if you find someone racist, ignore them and move on.


I hope you learn our language and feel comfortable here, you sound like a good person to me



Community Member

Hey there, a belated welcome to Australia to you 🙂


I was thinking that, depending on the organisation, they might have some resources or services to support employees who speak English as a second language. If they don’t, is there anyone you would with you might feel comfortable asking about how to seek support from management?


Australian employees have obligations to create a safe working environment, including psychological safety. If you’re feeling that you interactions with management maybe be negatively impact by your cultural background, you should seek out a Health and Safety Representative and ask if they can help you communication (anonymously if you wish) that you’re not feeling great about some of your interactions and you’re unsure if this is because you’re still learning about Australian workplaces or something else.


Lastly, many Australians take pride in our multicultural society. Please don’t think that you’re doing anything wrong - your personality, cultural practices and uniqueness are valued and welcomed. Since you moved here, you are now part of makes Australia one of the best countries in the world 🙂 

May W
Community Member

Hi, I've had the same experience when I first came over to Australia. You're experiencing what we call a culture shock. It's a difference in culture and you will get use to it in time, you will learn with experience dealing with people here. My biggest advice is not to let it bother you. I had to change my accent so others can understand me better. It was a slow process as I didn't go for a course and did it myself. Be patient and stay positive that things will improve with time once you adjust to the environment. 

Community Member

Hi hs5u,


Thanks for sharing your experience and you have come to the right place for support.


I migrated here many years back but I still struggle with certain slangs and accents so don't be too hard on yourself about that. I personally think it's also because most of the English we are exposed to is American on most of the media. 


I found the best way to engage with Australians is to be yourself and embrace your own culture while also learning and respecting Australian way of things. I've always been open and talkative to my colleagues about my culture, country, cuisines and other various things when they seemed interested. Then they would share their own experiences and interesting stories. Also I've showed them that I was open to learning English better. Then my colleagues have helped me with my pronunciations and educated me with many things. 


I understand not every work place and not every colleague would respond in a similar way. You will slowly learn the nature of your colleagues and find who you can rely on to get closer and seek help.


Good luck with your journey to settle in Australia!