I have seen many expats come and go over the years. These expats could have come here to retire or work but, and this is interesting, most fail to stick it out for similar reasons. More often than not – note I said more often than not as opposed to in all instances – the reason they fail is down to themselves; it is not down to bad luck but personality flaws. We all have to be accountable to how our life pans out, after all nobody else is.
The reason many expats fail is, in my opinion, lack of discipline when it comes to enjoying the nightlife (more often than not) or just a complete mismanagement of their resources (This can also be defined as ‘a re-allocation of their resources to a pretty Thai girl’).
Market Shifts can – and do – rock the Status Quo
More recently however there have been instances of a market shift, meaning you either adapt or get on the next plane back home. Just look at what happened when the condo boom targeting Westerners and Russians in Pattaya or Phuket dried up? It immediately impacted on these local expat markets as less money was there to share in these circles of business. To be fair 6 or 7 years ago the British retiree was hit when the baht strengthened against the pound. Pretty much over night their available funds were reduced by 25% or so. That is some hit.
So, What are the traits I think you need?
Anyway, it got me thinking – are they any personality traits that would help you make a success of your stay in Thailand? Of course the answer and logic says that there must be.
Here are what I think are 5 expat traits needed to get by more effectively in Thailand:
1. Emotional Intelligence – The ability to notice social cues and non-verbal situations and adapt accordingly.
2. Cultural Adaptability – Thais and very different to Westerners. We need to be more tolerant and accommodating of the local cultures, it is, after all, their country and we are their guests.
3. Language Skills – Picking up a few phrases will get you a long way in dealing with Thais. I certainly do not speak fluent Thai but I have enough vocab to deal with situations. It helps immensely.
4. Flexibility – It comes down to tolerance again, that ability to stay calm. Once again, we must be reminded that the way Thais do things are at times very different from us. Something my wife struggles with – I always find myself walking behind her when we are out and picking up the pieces with the local Thais!
5. Patience – You are seeing there is a common thread here with a number of these traits, but put together you can see what I feel is needed to absorb yourself properly into the Thai way of doing things. This does not, however, mean you should change your work ethic if you are here, keep disciplined and resist the urge to work the Thai way!!
And there you are, a quick round up of what I think is needed in order to live a more successful life as an expat in Thailand. I would love to hear your ideas on this subject, you can add your comments below.