Business Etiquette in Thailand

January 16, 2020 2:55 pm0 commentsViews: 202

Meeting business contacts or working in Thailand can sometimes be a challenge due to cultural differences between the West and this Buddhist society.

Business Etiquette in Thailand

By understanding a few basic notions about Thai people and their customs, most cultural misunderstandings can be easily avoided. Visitors interested in etiquette in general social situations in Thailand should read “A Look at Thai Customs and Etiquette.”

The Social Classes in Thai Society

Thailand is a class-based society where members of the higher classes tend to look down at the members of the lower ones.

Factors such as age, wealth, occupation and education determine a person’s class. Another factor, controversial for most Westerners, is skin color. People with a dark skin are usually considered by Thais as belonging to a lower social class.

Upon meeting a stranger, Thais immediately try to get a grasp of that person’s social ranking. This is done mostly by simply looking at that person’s appearance and behavior. Well-groomed men and women with a calm attitude and conservative clothes will therefore receive more respect that more laid-back individuals.

Dress Etiquette in Thailand

While conducting business in Thailand, male visitors should dress appropriately:

Hair should be kept short and facial hair should be shaved.
No tattoos or jewelry should be visible, except for wedding rings.
A long-sleeved white shirt with a tie and black or deep blue dress trousers are mandatory. Jackets are usually optional except during formal social events.
Shoes should be polished daily.
Female business travelers should follow those simple rules:
Hair can be worn long or short.
A sensible blouse with a dark-colored jacket and a knee-length skirt is the usual business attire for women in Thailand.
Bras are mandatory.
Sensible jewelry can be worn while conducting business in Thailand.

Interacting With Business Contacts

Business travelers should always make appointments before meeting new contacts since showing up unannounced is considered rude by most Thais. However, punctuality is not always a priority for Thai people. Visitors should plan accordingly.

Personal conflicts should be avoided while in Thailand. If a complaint is to be made, it is best to calmly discuss the issue and try to find an acceptable solution for both parties. In addition, in order to avoid potential conflicts, most Thais will refrain from making any negative remark or comment. It is therefore of the utmost importance to be able to read non-verbal communication when conducting business in this country.

As mentioned above, senior employees of a company, especially if they are at managerial level, are highly respected by other Thais. Showing them respect in a business negotiation is essential in order to close the deal.

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