Thailand People, Culture and Business Practice (Business)
Thailand is unlike any other place you would visit on earth. It is a place of values over wealth. All the people believe in ethics, respecting each other and valuing human life. They believe in building relationships before even conducting business. They do not lie and cheat people therefore once you have earned their respect and have proven that you are from a reputable company, they would be very happy to do business with you. When dealing with the people of Thailand, emotional restraint is practiced daily so learn to control your emotions. Even just a facial expression can mean a very different thing in Thailand. In the west, smiling often means agreement or approval, it can mean embarrassment or lack of understanding in Thailand. So, be careful, whenever possible, work closely with a Thailand business counterpart or someone very familiar with the culture when entering negotiations to be sure that you understand the subtle messages being conveyed.
Make an effort to cooperate with everyone. Seek and create harmony within a group. It is important to avoid conflict. Competition may be a healthy form of business in other countries but in Thailand competition may be viewed as disruptive. The people of Thailand view time as being intangible and plentiful. Beginning and end times are flexible for social and as well as business engagements. In the west, it is considered to be rude if you are ever late to any appointment. All of these behavioral practices can be attributed to the culture of Thailand. Over 90% of the country are people who are Buddhist. Thailand has the largest population of Buddhist people in the world.
The Kingdom of Thailand is a Constitutional Monarchy. The King of Thailand is highly revered in Thailand and spoken of only in the most respectful way. They expect foreigners to respect their King as well. No cartoons or satire or political unrest will be tolerated. Many of the country’s largest businesses are owned by people of Chinese or Sino-Thai heritage. Family links are an important factor in the business culture. Touching members of the opposite sex in public is not acceptable. Touching members of the same sex is acceptable and common in a casual situation. Never use your feet to adjust or move something since the feet are considered the most unsacred part of your body. The religious Monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by women. Avoid placing your arm around a chair to stretch. Remember respectfulness is so important in Thailand.