Thai Culture - Presenting Yourself The Proper Way

I was initially considering writing about manual handling train the trainer courses, but after careful consideration I have decided to share a few things with you that I learned during my visits to Thailand. Enjoy!

When visiting Thailand, it is important that you present yourself in a respectful way to the Thai people, especially the Thai government officials. There are some common traditions and mannerisms you should learn before visiting.

Many countries give the freedom for foreigners to act anyway they choose. It is different in Thailand and the Thai officials hold a higher status. Foreigners will benefit the most from showing respect within this country. This is not to say that foreigners are having their rights taken away from them and their ability to express themselves. Rather it is simply about acknowledging the important people who live in Thailand.

The first and most essential thing a person needs to learn is how to wai the Thai people properly. The wai is simply the form of a greeting and show of respect. There are four basic wais, however, a foreigner really only needs to know the basic two. The first wai is joining the palms together and raising the hands to two different positions in front of the face. The fingers will be pointing up with thumbs closest to the head. When a person is greeting a Thai official, it is more proper to put fingers higher and closer to the nose and even bend their head slightly.

In a restaurant or other outing, the proper wai would include the finger tips at the height of the chin. Also, it is common for foreigners to wai too much and they become nothing more than an amusement to the Thai people. Therefore, it is in a person’s best interest to be aware of the amount of times they wai as well as doing it properly.

The next thing a person should learn is how to dress appropriately. The clothes a person wears determines their rank or class to the Thai people. If a person is seen wearing a suit, they are considered professional. If they are seen wearing a tee shirt, they are considered of lower status, especially if the tee shirt has no sleeves. The only exception to this is if the person is at the beach or speaks Thai.

Last, showing the proper respect would be to keep your anger under control at all times. Becoming angry will put you at a status of being a ’jai room’which means a person who is unable to control their emotions. If you can keep your emotions calm, you are therefore valued and considered having the quality of ’jai yen yen’which means being able to stay calm under pressure.

The Thai people are very warm people and are eager to help a person learn their culture. Showing them the proper respect will go a long way.