Don't be rude doing business

Australians doing business abroad better watch what they say, after a survey found Americans and British colleagues think we're rude.

Australians working overseas are most likely to offend in the US and the UK, according to an international workplace survey which found Britain and America have the strictest office etiquette.

In fact, workers in the US and UK are more sensitive even than business colleagues from etiquette-conscious Japan, China or the Middle East.

English and American business people were more offended by colleagues who use speakerphones, swearing and not being offered a drink than their international counterparts.

They also hate the distraction of personal guests visiting the workplace.

No "good morning" from colleagues when they start the day was also considered offensive, the survey found.

According to the survey of business people in 13 countries, the top five business pet peeves are: people who arrive at work without greeting their workmates, not offering office guests a drink, speaking too loudly across a room, swearing and using speakerphone.

Swearing was the issue that most divides Australians from their international business colleagues.

A quarter of Australians say it is perfectly acceptable to swear while doing business, while almost all of the English and Americans surveyed found it deeply offensive.

Almost 90 per cent of Japanese and 80 per cent of Middle Eastern participants also rated swearing as very offensive.

And while almost all Australians say they'd never hesitate to call their boss by a first name, this is considered rude by many Chinese businesspeople.

Australians are also considered rude when they speak too loudly, take personal calls at work and pry into the personal life of co-workers or business partners.

"Being aware of potentially offensive behaviour is a key factor to Australian business success abroad," said Taine Moufarrige, executive director of office company Servcorp, which conducted the survey in 13 countries.

Australian business people were more laid-back when it comes to office behaviour, but did say they were offended by colleagues who don't offer them a drink upon arrival or forget to buy them a drink.