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Working With Thai People

          Wherever you work in the world there will be differences in working practices and attitudes. Thailand is no different. Below we will look at ways that will enhance your working experience while in the Kingdom as well as advising on things that must be avoided if you are to get the most out of such an experience.

Patience is a virtue:

        It is common for westerners working together to quickly build-up relationships with their colleagues. Thai’s are much more conservative in this respect.

        They will take their time in getting to know you and while you will be keen to quickly develop a sound working relationship, this will be best achieved by being patient, respectful and polite at all times.

        Pay particular attention to this during formal business communications and do take note of body language when involved in meetings or discussions.

Respect:

       We touched on this above, but to have a positive experience while working with Thai’s it is imperative that respect is shown. If shown it will generally be returned. This will mean that your business goals will be achieved in a far more positive manner.

       Respect is particularly due to those with rank as well as age. The eldest Thai person in your working group has an automatic amount of seniority and westerners should respect this.

Thai’s find it hard to say ‘No’:

         An important part of Thai culture is politeness at all times. This makes it difficult for them to say ‘No’. Do not assume responses are what they should be and be aware of any negative body language signs during discussions.

        Do not be afraid to ask questions and ask the same question in different ways to avoid any misunderstanding or miscommunication. Once you have initial answers and understand the answers given, please be prepared to ask more questions.

Thai’s are conservative by nature and are often afraid to ask questions. By gradually explaining and showing them that questions are key to the issues on hand it will help encourage them to begin questioning things with you.

        Once a Thai asks a question please take time to give answers fully and do not hesitate to explain the answer in more ways than one. This will not only help them understand issues concerned, it will give them confidence and satisfaction that they are beginning to achieve something that is often alien to them but natural to you.

Encourage Thai’s to speak their mind:

          This point will not be easily achieved. It is not generally in a Thai’s nature to say things on a subject that may appear negative or go against your way of thinking.

          Take time to explain to them as a group and as individuals how westerners view things from a working perspective. Let them know we would much rather have the ‘bad’ news in full and that it is not a slight on their attitude to deliver information exactly how it is.

          You need to encourage Thai’s to understand that westerners are far more aggressive in their working attitude and that once a situation is fully understood we adjust and adapt things accordingly.

Do not discriminate between male and female co-workers:

          If you are to get the best out of your Thai colleagues it is important that you treat either sex with the same respectful attitude.

Female co-workers are just as able as their male colleagues to complete business tasks and many show far more initiative. By leaving any discrimination where it belongs you will achieve a far better team relationship that will help your work experience while in the Kingdom.

Thai’s find it hard to say ‘No’:

         An important part of Thai culture is politeness at all times. This makes it difficult for them to say ‘No’. Do not assume responses are what they should be and be aware of any negative body language signs during discussions.

         Do not be afraid to ask questions and ask the same question in different ways to avoid any misunderstanding or miscommunication. Once you have initial answers and understand the answers given, please be prepared to ask more questions.

        Thai’s are conservative by nature and are often afraid to ask questions. By gradually explaining and showing them that questions are key to the issues on hand it will help encourage them to begin questioning things with you.

       Once a Thai asks a question please take time to give answers fully and do not hesitate to explain the answer in more ways than one. This will not only help them understand issues concerned, it will give them confidence and satisfaction that they are beginning to achieve something that is often alien to them but natural to you.

Encourage Thai’s to speak their mind:

       This point will not be easily achieved. It is not generally in a Thai’s nature to say things on a subject that may appear negative or go against your way of thinking.

       Take time to explain to them as a group and as individuals how westerners view things from a working perspective. Let them know we would much rather have the ‘bad’ news in full and that it is not a slight on their attitude to deliver information exactly how it is.

      You need to encourage Thai’s to understand that westerners are far more aggressive in their working attitude and that once a situation is fully understood we adjust and adapt things accordingly.

Do not discriminate between male and female co-workers:

         If you are to get the best out of your Thai colleagues it is important that you treat either sex with the same respectful attitude.

       Female co-workers are just as able as their male colleagues to complete business tasks and many show far more initiative. By leaving any discrimination where it belongs you will achieve a far better team relationship that will help your work experience while in the Kingdom.

Face and reputation are paramount:

      This final requirement for enjoying a successful working relationship with Thai people is the most important of all.

       It is often quite natural for westerners working together to blow-up, have a stand-up argument and openly disagree on business matters. Once things have settled down working life and relationships quickly get back on track.

        This is most definitely NOT case when working with Thai colleagues. Face and reputation are paramount to a Thai in life and this extends to working circumstances. NEVER embarrass or humiliate a Thai co-worker and be extra careful to ensure this mark is not overstepped when others are present.

Discuss issues in private:

        If a Thai colleague does something wrong, they are not completing tasks in the correct manner, or you want their current processes improving or changing then talk to the person concerned in private. Putting them under a spotlight will only serve to heighten the resistance received from that person and negativity will be felt all-round.

        It is imperative that you never lose your temper or use forceful emotions when discussing issues with a Thai. Take several deep breaths, talk things out calmly and professionally and offer various solutions to the issue at hand.

       This should achieve your goal. If you continue to see resistance or desired results are not being achieved then consider speaking with another trusted Thai colleague in an attempt to find a solution that will help all concerned.

A rich and rewarding experience:

       There is no doubt whatsoever that spending time working closely with Thai people is a rich and rewarding one, but it is an experience that must be earned.

       Respect, patience and professionalism are key to enriching a valuable period of your life and will go a long way to helping you understand the nature and attitudes of a very proud culture.


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