Who has the right to talk about me?!

Heads cogs_Shutterstock smallParaphrasing or seeking to explain someone else’s culture is a risky enterprise.

In this article ’14 Aussie Phrases we should all be using’ an American website initially does quite well. I found it interesting to see another culture’s experience of our phrases such as ‘can’t be bothered’, ‘my shout’ and the use of the word ‘keen’. Well, at least all was going well until:

“What a Beaut”: There are so many beautiful people in Australia, they must have just needed a quicker way to say beautiful… after all, they have to say it so often.

 Not sure about you, but I’ve never said, or heard said ‘what a beaut’. ‘What a beauty’ maybe?!   The next phrase explained: “the sus” also doesn’t ring true.

The safest way to ever explore culture is through engaging with people who know and are representatives of that culture. If that’s not possible, the next best step to ensure that at a bare minimum the things you are saying about another culture are a) true and b) verified by direct experience or someone from that culture.

Particularly in a multicultural and highly diverse culture like Australia, cultural representation and exploration needs to be done with great sensitivity and professionalism. Particularly when 25 per cent of people in Australia were born overseas, you can be almost guaranteed there’s a representative of the culture you are talking about in the room to correct you.

About the Author:

Tamerlaine Beasley is an expert who enables effective collaboration and communication in diverse and global workplaces.She is a member of the Board of the Australia-ASEAN Council for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and founder and Managing Director of Beasley Intercultural, Australia’s premier cross-cultural training and consultancy company.Tamerlaine’s keynote presentations, advisory services and training programs are described by clients as ‘transformational’ and ‘game changing’. Examples of her work include: coaching and advising business leaders in Australia and Asia; working with global teams to optimise performance; developing a framework for training and capability building through international partnerships for APEC; building local staff capacity at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific; leading the development of diversity and inclusion programs for the Australian Public Service Commission and the Department of Defence.