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Expats & Thais

March 13, 2014

I have several expat friends who have lived in Bangkok from one to several years. Their perspectives on living in Bangkok are various. Some of them know Thais very little even though they have been in Thailand for a long time. Maybe this is because they always deal with the same people and stay within their groups. It is okay if their work requires no need to know what Thais think of them. However, some expats go far deeper with Thai friends. They have so much fun because they know that they would never be able to do so in their own countries.

 

It is like other countries, you cannot say that you know the country or the people by just having a couple of friends from the country. People are different even within the country. They have different perceptions and attitude. And, it is not that the Thais accept how people behave in the ways that different from they expect them to be. Dealing with Chinese business people in Thailand and local street venders are totally different. A lot of Thais have Chinese ancestors that you cannot be distinguished from original Thais and who are not. Some of them have totally blended into being Thai but you will be surprised that some of them have not yet. They are still very strict in their beliefs and have very conservative ideas.

 

Connections are very important in Thailand more than you can believe. Even among Thais, if you fail to grab the people’s heart, you are unlikely to succeed. As a Thai, I would like to say that Thai people are very unreasonable or illogical. A lot of times they do things according to how they feel. Do not ask them for a reason. They do what temporary motivation drives them to do!

 

Communicating successfully in a foreign country is not easy but it is also not out of reach, if you are always conscious of the way you communicate with their people.

 

Here are some tips on how to be likable in Thailand.

  1. Well dress. With a reason that Thailand is a hot country, it is often that visitors appear to be so casual that they are considered to be inappropriate. Same as in many other cultures, people judge others by outer appearance, Thais can judge people by how others look also.

  2. Smile more often. Apply Thai character to yourself is the greatest idea to be likable. It might be a bit difficult to find Thai people who can communicate well in English and they can easily feel so intimidated by a giant-size foreigner that they want to walk away. Putting smile on your face more often will make yourself to be seen as kind, nice and likable for Thais. Then, it is easier to open their mind.   

  3. Speak in a lower volume. It might be a bit surprising for you that Thai people may assume that you are angry and try to intimidate them if you speak at your normal volume, (except in case that you have already be known as a person who has a quiet voice). Try to beware of your voice volume when speaking to Thais to ensure that you do not scare them or make them upset.

  4. Be calm. As we are known to be calm and patience, you almost can’t tell when we are in a messy circumstance. Even though life can be frustrating and not easy, for us nothing is better than keep smiling and stay calm. Be at ease when experiencing unexpected things in Thailand is the best thing to do.  

  5. Have a sense of humor. most of the times Thai people have a great sense of humor, even in life death situation. For Thais, nothing can go worse with a great sense of humor. What can be solved, will be solved and what cannot be solved cannot be solved. If you can apply this idea to yourself, you will easily be liked in Thailand, not in the most extreme case in life death situation, though. Just be positive, laugh at yourself and laugh at the circumstance. And, if you can put some joke there, not only you can win over Thais’ heart but also you know how to be Thais.  

Knowing a few words of Thai and know how to “Wai” (Bound in the Thai way) can make you likable. However, your friendliness and kindness can be expressed and interpreted more easily by non-verbal communication as the 5 tips described above.

 

Find a Bangkok interpreter (English Thai interpreter) or other language pair interpreters in Thailand ​: ai.interpret@gmail.com

 

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© 2013 By Kats Kasamon