Thailand Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

There is no doubt that Thai society is increasingly influenced by so-called Western culture and its values, which is largely reflected in the “adaptability” of representatives of the Thai business and corporate sphere when dealing with and doing business with their foreign partners. This influence of “Western” culture is enhanced by the fact that graduates of American and other foreign universities often reach leading positions in corporate hierarchies. management schools. But despite these relatively rapid and extensive changes that Thai society has undergone in recent years, it is absolutely necessary to perceive the existence of a number of differences and differences between Thai and Western culture. Knowing, understanding and respecting these differences is in many cases the basis and a necessary prerequisite for success in any field and in foreign trade in particular. Visit Animalerts for more information about Thailand culture and traditions.

Addressing

The most commonly used address in Thailand is Mr./Mrs. (“khun”) and appending the first name. Thai names are often so unusual and complex that many Thais themselves use a simplistic nickname (“nickname”) to make it easier to remember and communicate in both Thai and English. The younger generation usually has no problem switching to English very quickly, including calling them by their first name and ticking.

Personal negotiations and frequent trips to Thailand are the basis of success. Details can be resolved over the phone or e-mail, very often also via WhatsApp or Line, which is extremely popular in Thailand.

Business meeting

Private and professional aspects of life are intertwined for Thai people, and the best way to get a Thai partner on your side is to become friends with them personally. Who you know makes the difference in Thailand. Mutual trust is very important for Thais, personal negotiations on the spot are irreplaceable. Thais enjoy good food, which is why inviting Thai business partners for lunch or dinner at a quality restaurant can be an ideal start to building mutual contacts. An important principle is to arrive on time for arranged meetings, although this is not at all easy, especially in Bangkok, due to frequent traffic jams. On the other hand, it is not too surprising to wait for Thai partners for similar reasons. Thais will greatly appreciate the mutual exchange of gifts, but they must in any case be nicely or luxuriously wrapped. Form is often more important to them than content.

Negotiations in Thailand take place throughout the year, the country does not have a strictly “dead season” like the summer vacation period in Europe. However, there are weeks that are better to avoid, such as Chinese New Year or Thai New Year in April. Similarly, it is advisable to inform yourself carefully and in advance about the timing of local holidays with royal or religious overtones. In Thailand, it is customary to transfer holidays that fall on the weekend to the previous Friday or the following Monday and extend the weekend by one day.

A completely different culture and mentality can surprise you. Thai society is very hierarchical, from family to school to corporate structures. That’s why it’s always important to get to the top managers, or even better, the company owners, who have the decisive influence and the final say in the selection of business partners. In Thailand, “know-how” is not so important, but “know-who”. All business is based on personal contacts, acquaintances and mutual trust. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to establish yourself in Thailand in segments that are controlled by local influential family clans. Thais try to avoid conflicts at all costs and often hide their inner feelings (especially rejection and criticism) behind a smile. Therefore, it can be difficult to understand what the business partner actually wants to convey to you.

In Thailand, everything has its time… In general, Thais are very careful when dealing not only with a new partner (company), but also in the case of a new representative/representative of an already established customer. They always require sufficient time to thoroughly consider and assess the submitted offer. In any case, therefore, it is not possible to expect to sign a business contract at the first meeting. On the other hand, if Thais need something, they may require a quick response.

The Thais are very proud of the fact that their country has maintained its independence during colonial times, and just as they once managed to skillfully maneuver between English and French influence with clever diplomacy, they are still able to use the conflicting business interests of the world powers to their advantage. This can also be a certain advantage for the entry of Czech companies, which can be perceived as a counterpoint to strong Chinese and Japanese influence or an alternative to similar products from Western Europe. Thais tend to lean towards the stronger – so it is advisable to act confidently, but at the same time politely. But at the same time, they are very sensitive to arrogant behavior – as soon as they get the feeling of being insulted (the so-called loss of face) or accused of bringing the negotiations into a hopeless situation, our “offense” often cannot be corrected in any way.

Thais generally pay a lot of attention to their appearance and evaluate their foreign partners in the same way. A suit with a tie for men and a sober off the shoulder dress for women is a must.

The age and gender composition of the team does not play a crucial role, nor does there exist an ideal number of team members. Business negotiations are most often conducted by an authorized manager, or the owner/proprietor himself and with him experts for sub-areas. A woman at the head of the team is more and more an exception. It is fundamentally true that the negotiations are led by the most senior partners, who are supplemented by others with their consent. It is optimal for the actors to have the appropriate decision-making powers and status. A more junior member should not contradict a more senior member of the Thai team.

Most of the negotiations take place in the capital, Bangkok. During business meetings in restaurants, beer is usually consumed with food, less often wine and only exceptionally hard alcohol (foreign brands). During company meetings, coffee, tea or bottled water is the usual standard. Restaurants and offices are the main place for business meetings. When invited to a private apartment/house, don’t forget to take off your shoes at the entrance.

Communication

Although English is widely spoken in Thailand, you should be prepared for the fact that its level varies considerably. It is possible to meet company owners or managers who have studied at foreign universities or have lived in English-speaking countries for a long time, but in most cases it is necessary to take into account that the knowledge of English is only average at best. In addition, a number of information resources (including forms, regulations, laws/legislation) are only available in Thai, including government websites. Due to the sometimes limited knowledge of English among the representatives of smaller companies and the prevailing distribution of most written/printed materials (including information on websites) in Thai, the use of your own interpreter can be more than recommended.

Thais try to avoid conflicts at all costs and hide their inner feelings, including with an ever-present smile. Thais never communicate openly and directly, as we are used to in Europe, but in hints, body language and important information are conveyed somehow casually. Therefore, it is very difficult to understand what the business partner actually wants to tell you. In all circumstances, it is necessary to avoid disputes and quarrels during meetings and business negotiations, as Thais are very careful to maintain decorum (“don’t lose face”). You cannot expose your partner to a direct confrontation or publicly prove him wrong, even if it were true. Diplomatically placing the blame on a “third party” or adverse circumstances and helping to save his face are usually duly appreciated. The Thais need enough time to evaluate the offer and find a mutual consensus.

In principle, any criticism of the king/monarchy, religion and belief in supernatural beings should be avoided. It is not appropriate to engage in a discussion about the domestic political situation and sensitive topics such as drugs and prostitution. Thais do not like to lose face, so the conversation should not drive them into a corner, they must not feel that they are in a tight spot. A big faux pas is sitting cross-legged. Thais see the foot as the dirtiest part of the body – so if you show it (with the sole of your shoe), you are insulting them. It is also good to know that the Buddha statue is not for decoration, but fulfills a purely religious function. Never touch another person’s head.

Recommendation

The basis is a professional approach – quality preparation for meetings, punctuality, keeping promises, having documents and certificates in order (ideally representative/luxurious appearance) and also the ability to show partners the functioning of the company in the Czech Republic in order to make sure of the seriousness of the supplier. Although it is not always possible to expect the same attitude from the Thai side, it is a proven way to gain trust and respect. There is a lot of money and business opportunities in Thailand. A very crucial element is the gradual building of trust. It is necessary to approach the selection of a local partner with great care.

Public Holidays

Calendar and date

Thailand officially uses a solar calendar with the date of the Buddhist era, which begins in 543 BC All official documents state the date of the Buddhist era and this is also used in the daily life of Thai people. The year 2022 of the Christian era is the year 2565 of the Buddhist era.

Holidays

If a public holiday falls on a weekend, the next working day is the first day off. One of the basic elements of Thai people’s life and their daily activities is “sanuk”, i.e. entertainment – which manifests itself not only in everyday life, but also during the celebration of holidays.

January 1 – New Year

January/February – Chinese New Year, celebrations usually last for three days.

April 6 – Chakri Dynasty Day, a holiday honoring the founding of the ruling Chakri dynasty in 1782.

13-15 April – Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated at the end of the hot season and the beginning of the rainy season. Originally, people poured flower-scented water over each other’s hands as a blessing, but nowadays everything has turned into water battles, which in some cities last almost a whole week.

May 1 – Labor Day

May 5 – Coronation Day, a holiday in honor of the coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

May – Royal Plowing Ceremony

May/June – Visakha Bucha, a holiday in honor of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and entry into nirvana.

July 28 – Birthday of His Majesty the current King Rama X.

August 12 – Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, Mother’s Day.

October 23 – King Chulalongkorn Day

November 25 – Loy Krathong, the festival of lanterns and “floating baskets”.

December 5 – Birthday of His Majesty former King Bhumibol, Father’s Day.

December 10 – Constitution Day

December 31 – New Year’s Eve

Thailand Culture of Business