Body Language In Thailand

Thais do not talk with their hands. Instead, Thai people often cross their hands behind their backs or put their palms together in front of their bodies. Quick movements and fast walking are also rather uncommon. Pay attention to the following facial expressions and body language:

Both hands

When handing over and receiving objects respectfully, always use both hands. Under no circumstances should you only use your left hand.

Also, be careful not to pass anything over another person’s head, as in Thai Buddhism a person’s head is considered sacred.

Don’t point with your forefinger

Pointing a finger at people is a big no-no. Always use your entire hand to point at or wave at a person.

Soles of the feet

When sitting, toes or soles should never point to a person—nor to a Buddha figure if there is one in the room. In general, feet are considered dirty and should be kept away from everything. Take off your shoes in temples or private houses.

Eye contact

In Thailand, people are less inclined to openly and intensively look the other in the eye, especially not across different hierarchical levels. Too direct eye contact is considered to be unpleasant and provocative. This is in total contrast to a Western approach, which equates it with being open, honest, serious and interested in the other person.

Taking up space

However, hierarchically more senior people will show off their superiority through their body language, for example by taking up a lot of space at the conference table.

Be cautious not to use such body language in the wrong context.

Laughing and giggling

Thai people like to laugh a lot. And if you can laugh at yourself, this is very well received by Thai partners!

However, be aware that smiling or giggling can also be a sign that you feel uncomfortable or do not want to answer. Smiling in difficult situations is an expression of stress. At the same time, it is an attempt to restore harmony on the interpersonal level through friendliness.

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