Understanding cultural norms and differences can prevent uncomfortable moments along with work stoppages, breaking local laws, and political issues. After working my first job overseas, I quickly found myself spending more time explaining, drawing pictures, and learning the cultural differences to perform simple tasks. In order to continue and be competitive overseas while overcoming the unknowns, I began bidding a language translator into the jobs. This position has proven to be instrumental for production, fostering quality work relationships, and enjoyable times, while working abroad as it helps in overcoming the cross-cultural communications barriers that are prevalent due to the diverse cultures.
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Thailand people are non-confrontational with strong religious values and find pride in both work and personal activities. In order to channel this work ethic and prevent confrontation, causing work stoppages, I found Nucharin Choomkhamnoy, a local who began working as an interpreter to earn money needed for college and helping her family. I was introduced to Nucharin by one of my customers, who occasionally hired him to help him in his various chores. Since I met him two years ago, he has become a friend over the years and continues to surprise me with very important values that are practiced each day in Thailand but forgotten in America.
Nucharin was brought up in Thailand since his childhood. His parents made sure that they taught him the Thai culture and Buddhist religion during his childhood. The religion has enabled him to be equipped with the Thai culture, which is characterized by respects for others, detachment from objects, among others. Having being raised in Thailand has enabled him to master the Thai culture effectively, which has been important to enlighten me about very important things that I need to hold so that to help me live harmoniously in Thailand as I do my day-to-day activities. This information has greatly improved my cross-cultural communication with the locals, which has, in turn, greatly boosted my business performances.
Thai culture is one of the most distinct cultures that we have in the world today. The Thai culture has its origin to the various groups of people who migrated to Thailand. Thai culture has borrowed mostly from India’s culture that is based on India’s religion and mythology. The Thai culture is Buddhist, where people are taught to reason out and think and not being manipulated by the religious leaders as it is with Christians, Muslims, and Jewish religions (Sandler, 2010).
After hiring Nurchin as my interpreter, we used to talk a lot about American and Thai cultures. Initially, I used to differ greatly with him about the culture of the Thai people, which I considered as being primitive and outdated. On the other hand, he used to complain very much about western culture, which he regarded as a culture that is disrespectful and arrogant. After sharing with him for a while about the Thai culture, I came to appreciate the Thai culture due to the great values it holds. The Thai culture that is characterized by respect for others has enabled Thailand people to be regarded as one of the most peaceful and hospitable people in the whole world. Although Thai people are known to be very respectful, they are also considered as being very assertive.
This is because, during their early years, Thai people are taught relevant principles that are instrumental in the Buddhist religion. The Thai religion makes the Thai people differentiate between self-delusion and reality. In addition, the Buddhist religion teaches its members the principle of the nature of cause and effect. The principal makes the Thai people realize that everything that they do, whether good or bad, has got its short term and long term effects.
This is something that has greatly facilitated my friendship with Nucharin. These good religion principals have made Nucharin a very effective employee. He has proved to be very hardworking and also very loyal both in time and respect for my resources ranging from money to other properties. He is not driven to work hard due to the desire to accumulate a lot of wealth, but the desire to excel in what he does. Initially, I had not learned to trust him fully with my finance and other properties because I viewed him as being very much in need and thus might disappear with my money or some of my properties that are highly prized.
This was a misconception that I had since from what I learned later; the Thai culture does not hold strong attachments for objects. Instead, they consider strong attachments for objects as a weakness. The American culture, on the other hand, is characterized by strong attachments on objects such that anyone can do anything to possess what they are pursuing. The element of lack of attachment to objects for the Thai people has greatly changed my attitude towards the American perception towards material things. It has enabled me to shift my motivation for working from being driven by the desire to accumulate more wealth, to that of ensuring that I excel in what I am pursuing (Asian Publishing Ltd,2011).
Another thing that I have learned is that Thai people are not supposed to combine self-delusion in their thoughts or conversations. Examples of self-delusions that they shun from include superiority complex, arrogance, and social status. Some cultures, such as the culture of the Americans, are well known to be highly characterized with distinctions both in business matters as well as in private relationships. The Thai culture is characterized by great respect for other people and particularly for the elderly (Unknown, 2011). Respect for others is not an element of Americans or western culture. During my early days in Thailand, I faced a lot of problems while interacting with the local residents.
This was greatly attributed to the American culture that was dominance in me. I was by then very arrogant, suffered from the superiority complex for being an American who comes from the strongest country in the world in terms of economy, political, and technological. I also discriminated against people on a social status where I preferred mostly to work or being close with those people who we belonged to the same social status. The lessons that I learned from Nucharin helped me to change my American superiority perception, and I started to respect and interact with everyone, which greatly boosted my relationship with the locals. This, in turn, promoted my business performance greatly (Asian Publishing Ltd, 2011).
According to Thailand for You (n.d), Thai people use different methods of shopping for those that are used in western societies. Shopping in western societies and especially in American, usually involves buying goods that have their prices labels attached. In Thai, shopping is characterized by high bargaining. This makes the Thai people often being renowned as professional bargainers. This method of shopping was very annoying to me in my early days in Thailand, but with time I came to appreciate this shopping method, which I later employed in my business (Jandt, 2010).
The executive, judicial, and legislative are the three major independent authorities that hold the balance of power in Thailand. The Thailand constitution gives the King some power, which is mostly regarded as a symbol of unity and identity. This ensures great deals of moral authority that are often employed to intervene in the situation of political crises, which influences the course of the government. The presence of the King in the Thailand government, who symbolized unity and is used to resolve the political crisis, illustrates a very effective government with sufficient institutions to facilitate the smooth running of the government, which has boosted the political stability of the country (Anzinger,2003). This has enhanced the economic performances of businesses which have attracted many foreign investors
The interview with Nucharin was very educative since I learned very important values that are not reflected in the American culture. Respect for others is one important value that greatly boosts communications within and across borders. For effective communications, there should be no instances of arrogance or superiority complex where some factions feel more superior to others. Respect for others will result in mutual understanding, which will result in successful communications.
Therefore, for effective cross-cultural communications, both parties should take sufficient time and effort and understand each culture. This is because different cultures are known to interpret similar situations differently, which can cause a lot of conflicts if not appropriately identified early enough. The use of an interpreter can be a very effective strategy of helping one to understand and appreciate foreign cultures.
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Boarders and waters separate lands and people, creating cultures and lifestyles to live by. Inner action between cultures is not the easiest barrier to overcome, but when it happens, two cultures are interacting, successful intercultural communications is a must. Without an interpreter to translate language and cultural norms, one wrong word or action can turn a good day into a bad one.
Anzinger, G. (2003) Governments on the WWW: Thailand. Web.
Asian Publishing Ltd (2011). Thai Culture. Web.
Jandt, F. E. (2010). An introduction to intercultural communication (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Sandler, L., (2010). What-Can-Laws-Do-Without-Morals. ezinearticles.com. Web.
Thailand for You (n.d).Thailand Colure and Thai Customs. Web.
Unknown, (2011). Discover Asia Thailands World. Asian publishing world limited. Web.