Thai People : A Brief Guide
Although it is possible to describe the Thai people as being a singular group, in Thailand, the people of the country are commonly broken down into four groups, which are the North, South, Eastern and central Thai people. As you would expect from different groups in the country, each grouping has a main characteristic that the other people continually refer to, and in the main, these are not positive or pleasant descriptions.
Across the country, people from the north of Thailand are described as lazy, the people from the South are considered to be bad news for everyone, the people from Central Thailand are described as selfish and it is said that the people from Eastern Thailand are focused on money.
When you think about the fact that general Western culture believes that people from Thailand are friendly and very positive and upbeat, it is a shock to hear the way that Thai people think about other Thai people but they are very unlikely to talk in this manner outside of their close circle of friends or family members.
Respect is hugely important to Thai people
You will find that respect is very important in Thai life and there is a large focus on being respectful to the hierarchy of things. This can be seen with the reverence afforded to The King but in the workplace, it is common for employees to show a high level of respect to management and senior employees. An example of this would be in a high school where even senior teachers would sit on the floor or at a lower level than the headmaster of the school.
While there is a reverential level of respect to people of a higher status in Thailand, it is correct to say that there is a level of friendliness shown to the vast majority of people. Foreigners are treated with a high level of respect and if you ever have any questions or requests to make of a Thai person, you will find that they will be only too willing to help you out. Unfortunately, if they are unable to comply with your request, they will stay say that they will try to help rather than admitting that they are unable to help you out. This can cause some problems but it is borne out of a desire to not let people down or to cause them any problems.
Thailand is seen as the Land of Smiles
The desire to be friendly and gracious is a large part of the Thai culture, and although it may seem strange to people from the west, once you are familiar with the behaviour, it becomes second nature. There is a very good reason why Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, and this is because the people love to smile. They may wait until you smile first but if you do, you can expect to receive a bigger and broader smile in return.
While some Thai people may look down on other people from Thailand by calling them lazy, it is fair to say that by Western standards, Thai people are extremely hard-working and industrious. No matter how early in the morning you get up, you can rest assured that there will be local people already up and working.
Hard work is part and parcel of life in Thailand but there is a slightly relaxed attitude to deadlines. This can be frustrating if you are waiting on someone or looking to conclude work with a Thai person or company, but again, when you get used to this part of Thai life, you will find it easier to work with and alongside the people from Thailand.
The Thai people have a great reputation for being friendly and relaxed and it is a reputation that is very much deserved.