Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays and Greetings from Thailand

Most of America is probably traveling or has arrived to spend the Christmas season with family and loved ones. Most Christmas Eve's I would be doing so as well (or going for Chinese food and movies--a time-honored Jewish tradition on Christmas Eve). But this Christmas I will not be anyplace near family, friends or loved ones as I'm in Thailand celebrating my honeymoon. Currently I'm in Ko Samui, a beautiful island of white-sanded beaches and delicious food. So while I read about snow storms hitting all across the US, I will be enjoying the beach in the high 80s tomorrow.

Okay....enough gloating. The purpose of this post wasn't to make everyone jealous (though if that's a side effect, oh well...haha). But one of the things I've noticed in my time here is that social norms and comfort with a difference in cultures is essential to grasp and then practice when doing business with other cultures. A few examples from my trip:

  • Every time I try to point in a direction, everyone ducks. Pointing is probably not good in any culture but the result of my constantly trying to figure out which direction I'm supposed to go in has gotten a few extreme reactions
  • Shoes sometimes need to come off even when it seems strange. I like the idea of taking your shoes off when you go inside a building, especially a holy site, but leaving my shoes in the middle of a crowded walking street so that I can head indoors seems a bit strange to me and the first few times, I opted to keep my shoes in a bag inside instead of outside. But once I conformed, I found that there's really nothing to be worried about and I like the idea of not tracking your whole day around with you when you enter a building. 
  • Learning a few words in another language means a lot to the native people. It's a strange thing to say but I feel like just learning a few words in Thai (especially bathroom which I loosely pronounce as "hong nam") has brought a lot of joy to some of the locals. Not the "let's make fun of Andrew for trying" type of joy but the "hey, he's giving our language some effort". I know that everyone tries to learn English for us tourists so a few, easy Thai words can't be so hard for me
  • Sometimes greetings should be more formal. I'm not sure that you could get American businesses in the service industries to respectfully bow as they do in Thailand but I think that they would garner a lot more good will and respect from their customers. It's a small gesture and one that is part of their culture but the bow is a great way to show the customer just how important they are--even if they haven't learned any Thai words.

The lessons of all of these is that even though we all try to keep an open mind when going to visit another area or do business with a foreign people, sometimes truly understanding the culture and the norms will help not only further those business dealings and make them go smoother, but also provide lessons for how we can all conduct our business a bit differently ourselves. We tend to get caught up in "Western norms" but sometimes relying on thousands of years of customs works just fine too.

Here's wishing everyone who reads our blog and their families, friends, and loved ones a very Happy Holidays from us at Astron Solutions! May your year be filled with sunshine, happiness, and all good things!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your grateful informations, am working in Tourism Portal ,
    so it will be a better information’s for me. Try to post best informations like this always

    ReplyDelete

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