Despite the fact that Thai people are very easy going and Thailand is a great place to do business, it’s very easy for Westerners to sometimes make social faux pas’ when interacting with Thai colleagues or clients. If you’re a farang who has made the wise decision of choosing to work in Thailand, here are a few tips that might make it easier on you during your next business transaction.
Thai businesses are usually owned by Thai families of Chinese descent and everybody here knows everybody else when it comes to the big leagues. As an outsider it might take time to build up a good personal relationship with your business partners so don’t be discouraged if you’re not welcomed into the fold with open arms right away. Be patient and show that you’re friendly and trustworthy and then after that you will hopefully become accepted.
Understand the difference between Yes and Yes
There are two ways for Thai people to say Yes. “Chai” or “Khup” for men and “Kha” for women. Sometimes it means that the person understands you and sometimes it means that they agree. Always confirm which one is which, if you really need to know.
If you’re going to contact a Thai company for the first time, it’s better to do it through a formal, printed letter rather than an email.
When meeting for the first time to discuss business, don’t talk about business right away. Thai people generally prefer a little bit of social chit chat before getting down to other matters. It might not even be until another meeting on another day that you start to talk about your business ventures.
Present a Present
The occasional small present goes a long way in Thailand, especially if it is something from your native homeland. Nothing too extravagant, just keep it simple.