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The Business Etiquette in Thailand

December 03, 2021
Thailand is among one of the rising economic countries in Southeast Asia. Most people tend to just focus on Singapore when it comes to business in this region but in fact, Thailand is gaining a lot, if not just as much traction too. More and more people are doing business with Thailand and the country itself is showing a lot of promise. And it's highly likely you yourself, as well as your company, might succeed if partner up with the Thais. But in order to do that, you have to abide by and adhere to their business etiquette.

The Business Etiquette in Thailand


Always Invite Properly

It may be common in other countries to set up meetings spontaneously, on the spot, or simply via email, but that won't work in Thailand. Businessmen/women in this country follow a certain protocol when setting up a meeting, be it within the company or with other businesses. You first have to send a written notice to all the parties involved. Afterward, it's proper manners to call to ensure everyone got the invitation and that they can RSVP or even ask to change the date and time if needed. This process is the only way any planned meeting will be taken seriously in Thailand.


Punctuality is Important

You'll probably find out the moment you get a job in Thailand that punctuality is important here. Although the country is known as the 'land of smiles,' they'll sooner turn into frowns the moment you get to work late. And it's especially important during business meetings, business lunches or dinners, and the like. So for as much as possible, be it on an ordinary workday or when you have an important meeting, always arrive on time. If you can't help but be late, at least let everyone know through a call or email, but even then, there's no telling how others will respond.

The Business Etiquette in Thailand



Appearances are Everything

Just as important—others might say that it's even more so—as punctuality is your appearance. In Thailand's corporate settings, a suit and tie are all a businessman needs to dress appropriately. Darker and muted colors are better too. For businesswomen, they have the choice of either a suit or a modest dress. In regards to the latter, it's safer to go for dresses that reach under the knee. Here in Thailand, your appearance actually correlates to your professional standing. This means the more properly dressed you are, the more important you seem to others. And in relation, the more they'll take you seriously in return.


Respect Seniority

Thailand's corporate world pretty much operates on a hierarchal system. You should give the most senior officials in the office or within a meeting the utmost respect. It's pretty much the same with the country's social customs. Also, it's common for people to address those they know first, sometimes, regardless of position. Oftentimes, those who rank within the same level in businesses tend to stick and socialize together. Managers talk with fellow managers and subordinates converse with fellow subordinates. Nevertheless, never forget to always act courteously with those with complete seniority. Only then will you be able to start the meeting or event with no problem at all.

The Business Etiquette in Thailand



Remember Sanuk

In Thai culture, they have a concept called 'Sanuk,' which means having the right mindset to enjoy yourself and live as you please. Now, you'd think this has nothing to do with official business settings but think again! Even the most senior levels in Thailand's corporate settings follow Sanuk, even during business meetings. This is all about fostering a peaceful and open environment where everyone is comfortable. That's why small talk before the actual meeting is more important than you realize. Allow people to socialize a bit before you start with your agenda.


Be Sensitive

Following the concept of Sanuk, you should always remember to be sensitive when dealing with Thai businessmen/women. It's not that they themselves are overly sensitive when it comes to criticism and differing opinions, but for as much as possible, it's better to keep up a peaceful environment within corporate settings. In this regard, always be conscious of others' emotions and act accordingly. Don't be too aggressive with your comments and always open up a discussion where others can talk freely while avoiding tension and heated arguments. Moreover, Thais consider interrupting rude so don't do that as well.

The Business Etiquette in Thailand



Get Used to Silence Every Once and A While

Sometimes, when you present your plan, proposal, work, and the like, you might be met with silence. Although this may feel awkward at first, you'll have to get used to it. It's common for Thai businessmen/women to stay quiet while listening, observing, examining, reviewing, and the like. If you're met with silence after a presentation, it simply means they're thinking pretty hard about what you just presented in order to give a proper reply. And in such situations, all you have to do is to be patient. Remember, as already mentioned, interrupting is considered rude in Thailand's business world.


Give Out Business Cards

Finally, at the end of every meeting, don't forget to give out your business card. Yes, this practice is quite common in Thailand. In fact, you have to use your right hand to give out your cards and your left hand to receive what others give you. As for what to write on your business card, the more details, the better. Of course, they'll still have to be legible too. And if you can, include both English and Thai translations too. Whether you're in Bangkok, Phuket, or any other place in Thailand, knowing how to speak Thai and writing your business cards in the language is always helpful.

The Business Etiquette in Thailand


Once you learn and understand Thailand's business etiquette, it'll be easier for you to work and do business here. Don't miss your chance of working with one of the rising countries in Southeast Asia and in the entire world!

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