Understanding Thai People
People simply know them as Thai people, citizens of Thailand. People are generally curious about how people from different cultures live. This is one of the reasons why visitors visit places, to get to know others in a more intimate way. People who were born in Thailand are either full Thai citizens or they can trace back their roots to partial Chinese ancestry. Thailand is said to be the land of the free and land of smiles. From its 65.4 million population, about 10 million of these live in Bangkok which coincidentally is this country’s capital.
Thai Language Overview
Thai people are divided by four main dialects: Central Thai, Northeastern Thai, Northern Thai and of course Southern Thai. Out of these four dialects, the official language is Central Thai. Scholars say that it was during the reign of King Narai when this dialect was established as the standard language of the Thai people. This language is used for official business transactions, academic and other daily endeavors. The languages spoken in this country are believed to originate from the area near border between Vietnam and China. However, to date, this is still debatable among linguistic scholars.
Foreigners often say that it is a sing-song language because of the melodic patterns. Thai language is phonemic in nature which means pronouncing a word is independent of its meaning. Most Westerners only take time to learn how to speak Thai but not how to write it. The problem with this method is that there is a major difference between the spoken and written word depending on which source it came from.
Thai People in Business and In the Workplace
For people who are planning to establish a good business relationship with Thai people it is important to note that Thai businessmen like working with those whom they respect. As with any kind of relationship, it is not easy to develop instant camaraderie. In business negotiations communication is always formal. Respect for rank and age must be carefully observed at all times. Thai people find it hard to say no. Observe their body language if it jibes with what they are saying. Punctuality is highly valued. Advance appointments are preferred and instant meetings are unwelcome. Do the homework before dealing with the person. Learn a little Thai language and use this during conversations.
When entering a room, remain standing unless given an instruction where to sit down. It is helpful to bring along a business card that has English information on one side and its Thai translation on the other side. Give the business card to the most senior Thai person in the room. In Thai culture, a woman does not enjoy the same privileges as the men. It will take a very long time before a woman can reach the highest senior position in an organization. There is a great respect for woman though and a sign of disrespectful behavior is not tolerated.
The style of leadership in Thailand is Authoritarian and Autocratic. In Thailand, the boss is the boss. Thai people are known to unquestionably accept hierarchies. This means it is up to the boss to make all of the decisions. Check and counter check if instructions were understood since Thais were taught in school to never contradict their teachers so they would say yes even if they do not really understand the instructions given. Thais are sensitive to disharmony, better watch their body language to avoid conflict in the workplace. Thais get their work attitude from the rural tradition of rice farming where in groups are gathered together to work. They enjoy working in groups. They usually do not take the initiative and will work better if assigned specific tasks after one work is done.
Politics is Power
Thai political life is governed by a constitutional monarchy whereby their Prime Minister is the head of the government and is more powerful than the King who acts as the head of state. In the olden days when Thailand was still Siam it was under the absolute rule of the kings. After the 1932, democratic revolt the country has adapted the constitutional monarchy. The political life of this country has had its fair share of turmoil in the past.
The Thai government has tried its best to foster reconciliation in politics. The government understands that the political state of a nation affects its economy and its people. Political conflicts have divided Thailand since 2005. A recent bill is being protested by its people for fear of granting amnesty to fugitives.
Religious Beliefs of the Thai People
Religion plays a vital role in the lives of the Thai people. The national religion of this nation is Hinayana Buddhism. However, there is an absolute freedom of other faith like Islam, Christianity and other faith practice by the people. Religion is protected by the constitution. When Buddhism found its way to Thailand in the 3rd century B.C. it proved to be a very persuasive force that even ethnic groups adopted it. The main concept of this belief focuses on the law of karma where compassion and love brings in happiness. Individuals embrace this belief because it complements their sense of inner freedom. No wonder why there are many temples sprinkled all throughout Thailand to celebrate their Buddhism religious beliefs. The architectural buildings and art expresses the belief in Buddhism. It is normal to observe that Thais respect Monks. Even if other religions are given freedom to live and work in Thailand without restrictions the cultural background is what makes it difficult to entice the people to convert to another belief.
A good example of a typical Thai meal is that it consists of soup or curry dish, salad and fried dishes and desserts. All of the dishes are served at the same time. City dwellers prefer eating quick and easy meals because of their hectic schedules like grilled pork with sticky rice or rice porridge. Lunch is a little heavier than breakfast and dinner is taken with friends and family. The Thais love to snack too which is evidenced by the wide spectrum of food hawkers who sell their products. Thais like sharing their food which is why in most restaurants the person is asked if it is a single order or for sharing.
Thai people are famous for a lot of things. They are fun loving individuals who love to share and like snacking in between meals. They show respect towards their elders and leaders. They are good artists as seen in the Thai silk that they produce. They are graceful dancers. They are good fighters as shown in Muay Thai fights. There is simply so much to learn about these freedom loving people.