Welcome topics of conversation
As a general rule, when at work you can feel confident to talk business, yet when away from the office, or dining with your hosts or colleagues, try to include topics other than work. Thais generally appreciate stories about people’s own experiences and families, and rarely are ‘all business.’
Most topics are open to conversation, but never ever discuss the monarchy or issues such as national security.
If educated abroad, Thais are always quite keen to talk about their experiences there and, generally, all Thais are keen to hear about your experiences and impressions of visiting / living in Thailand. Be careful: Thais can take complaints about their country personally. It is always good to focus on your positive experiences.
If Thais do bring up a complaint with you, such as how polluted parts of Bangkok are, or apologize for how dirty their factory is, it is best not to agree with them directly, but simply state ‘It’s fine–don’t worry about it.’
Be careful not to give too much praise in regards to a Thai’s possessions, as he or she may feel embarrassed, or obligated to give you the item in question. It is best to give general praise, such as ‘You have a wonderful office.’
Direct questions are also quite common, and people will often say something like ‘I’m sorry, are you married?’ Part of this is trying to identify your position in the group.
Age is also a common question, especially if you are not yet going bald or grey! Direct replies are appreciated, but can be avoided if you don’t feel comfortable replying. ‘I feel like I’m 21 again!’ is a good example of an indirect response.
Be aware that Thais will often state bluntly that you are either fat or fatter than the last time they saw you. Don’t take offence at this and simply laugh it off and give a simple reason–usually all the delicious Thai food you have been enjoying recently. There is no need to reply with a similar comment.
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