It is quite often I will moan about a Thai person, it could be a member of staff forgetting to do something or it could be the bad service I had at a restaurant. In fact, the topic of a Thai persons failings is something I hear other expats discuss on a weekly basis. Maybe I am in a business meeting and the client is discussing how his Thai staff are unable to make simple decisions on their own, or it could just be a friend telling me that ‘Thai excellence in service’ is the biggest myth of all timei (which I actually do agree it is though). The point is there is always some rant as to why a Thai person has not come up to expectation.
Thai people can be infuriating
Thai people can be infuriating. This I cannot deny and if you have lived in Thailand long enough I am sure you agree with this, how can you possibly not?!
So then, how does my title marry up with the opening couple of sentences? Well, it does, you see I think we need to take ourselves off our ‘Western pedestal’ that assumes because things and people are not doing things the ‘Western’ way that somehow this makes them a lesser person. Because one culture is fundamentally different to our own, does not mean it is worse.
I have to correct myself on this all the time.
This negativism is why we get conflicts between countries, religion and the likes. If we do not understand the other person, we look at them as unequal and somehow less of an individual than ourselves.
There are times when I admire the Thai laid back, family centric attitude. We could die tomorrow and in a moment our position in society is worth nothing, however you view your position or status in society, that moment your inhale your last breathe everything disappears with it.
I think I have personality habit flaws, that others would say is a strength. For example,I worry too much about things. I keep a schedule planner on my phone with reminders for not just appointments but tasks still pending. I have two lists on my desk with ongoing task reminders and tasks that need completing for each day. When I am home and have my kids eager for my time, chances are I am on my mobile replying to emails or making notes about a new project I may be considering. It is too much, but in the Western world my dedication to business and my career is often applauded.
If I pushed you for an answer to choose what is really important to you in your life, would you really put work ahead of family? Would you rather have a life full of fun and happiness or one that is structured and discipline? As these are some of the cultural differences I see between Thais and Westerners.
Yes of course, there is more to the story here…
Of course there is a bigger piece here, but I don’t think it impacts too much on culture. Good education is still a problem in Thailand for example. I am also quite sure this topic of Thais and Westerners can be opened up and explored much more than my blog will today, but today I am going to choose my family over work. I have two choices as I sit and finish this article, I can wrap up for the day and go back home and take my kids to the beach or I can sit and research the subject and provide a far more thorough discussion.
I am going to choose my family and that decision may very well be based on all my years of living in Thailand and, in some small way, a little bit of Thai culture rubbing off on me.
Just remember next time you are having a moan about a Thai person that the problem could very well sit with you just as much as the person you are ranting about! And also remember maybe – just maybe -we can all learn from Thai cultures and benefit from having the opportunity to experience a different culture to our own.