To our Asean writers,
I would like to contribute an article to all of you. This article is a part of my novel "Blind by Choice". It talks about Thai and Western attitude. Learning other cultures is beneficial and it improves your communication skills as well.
THAI vs. WESTERN ATTITUDE
Understanding another culture is like looking out into the ocean and seeing the waves ripple across the vastness of nature, but instead of just watching you must wade into the ocean and even look below the surface. Otherwise, your knowledge of the culture may be limited to the part that is paid to make you feel welcome.
No doubt, people are aware that there are many differences between Eastern and Western
cultures. For one thing, we have differing views about what is offensive. Take the Thai attitude
to the head and the feet, for example. The head has high status and so one should generally
avoid touching another person’s head. The feet, in contrast, are seen as lowly and dirty, and so
Thais will not stretch out their feet in the direction of other people. Nor will they use their feet to
point with. Westerners do not umbrage to these actions. As for Westerners, we may feel
offended by someone asking about our monthly income or our age, while such questions
are just fine in Thailand.
As for the age question, Thais have a good reason for asking, which is that respect for seniority is an important part of Thai culture. Thais extend family labels to a wide variety of people - actual blood relation is not required. They address a person who is older as 'older brother', 'older sister', 'aunt', 'uncle' and so on, based on that person's age. Therefore, Thais need to ask about age so that they can address a person appropriately. "