Humour and slang in the Australian workplace

The use of humour is common in many Australian workplaces. Being able to laugh at yourself and with others is viewed as a positive quality.

To add an element of fun to the work day, people like to share stories, banter and sometimes even play practical jokes on close co-workers. During social or fun exchanges, you may notice language that is quite casual with the use of colloquial or slang words. Here the speaker or writer will express themselves informally, often without using correct grammar or social niceties. Depending on the culture and industry, swearing may also occur – generally, this is not intended to be rude or hurtful, but is used to be playful and create familiarity.

In terms of communication style, co-workers tend to be direct and straightforward. While this may sound blunt, it generally allows for clear and objective discussion. On some occasions semi-informal language may also occur when discussing work related matters, through the use of phrases or metaphors. Depending on where you are from, it might take a while to get used to this.

Here are some common Australian words and phrases. Select each of word or phrase to see what it means and how it is used.

Slang Words

Coulda

Coulda

Meaning:
Could have

"I coulda grabbed a cuppa for you too"

Cuppa

Cuppa

Meaning:
A cup of coffee or tea

"I coulda grabbed a cuppa for you too"

Choccie

Choccie

Meaning:
Chocolate


"I like to eat a choccie at 3pm for a pick me up towards the end of my work day"

BYO

BYO

Meaning:
Bring Your Own


"It’s BYO plate for tomorrow’s team lunch"

Wanna

Wanna

Meaning:
Want to

"Wanna grab dinner after work?"

How ya going?

How ya going?

Meaning:
How are you?


"Hey mate how ya going?"

Slang Phrases

Play it by ear

Play it by ear

Meaning:
Let’s decide at the time


"No need to schedule in that meeting now, let’s play it by ear tomorrow "

Touch base

Touch base

Meaning:
Reconnect or ‘check in’


"Let’s touch base at the end of next week to see how we’re tracking with project 101 "

No brainer

It’s a no brainer

Meaning:
It’s obvious or self-evident

"It’s a no brainer that a Work Integrated Learning program helps students "

At the end of the day

At the end of the day

Meaning:
When everything is taken into consideration



" At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we go with option A or option B, the result will be similar "

Get all your ducks in a row

Get all your ducks in a row

Meaning:
Prepare or organise for an upcoming event, activity or meeting


"They should have had their ducks in a row beforehand, so they were ready to start their placement on time"

Think outside of the box

Think outside of the box

Meaning:
Be creative or innovative when solving a problem


"Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box on this one"

On my radar

On my radar

Meaning:
On my radar


"That new tool has been on my radar for a while "

Win-win situation

Win-win situation

Meaning:
A situation where there is only a positive outcome for every party


" Implementing this CRM system has been a win-win situation for both the sales consultants and the clients "

Out of the blue

Sample Back Title

Meaning:
Present an unexpected challenge.



" The design change came out of the blue "

If you are in an environment that is more casual, it’s important to be aware that humour, story-telling and jokes are subjective – meaning that different people find different topics amusing. So remember, if any language or joke makes you feel uncomfortable or offended, you have the right to ask the person to stop, or discuss the behaviour with your supervisor or WIL mentor.

References

Western Australia. Department of Education and Training. & Australia. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Employability skills and workplace culture in Australia: a guide for new migrants to Western Australia planning to enter the work. 2008
http://www.vetinfonet.det.wa.edu.au/accessequity/docs/workplace_culture_guide.pdf
West, Barbara and Frances T. Murphy. G’Day Boss: Australian Culture and the Workplace. Abbotsford: Tribus Lingua, 2007

Understanding Australian Workplace Cultures: Thriving in the Australian workplace

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