Monday, 27 April 2009

Intercultural Coaching (4)

One element of my intercultural coaching is talking about the mistakes that I have made in foreign lands. Here's one:

In Thailand, the concept of standing in line is not exactly widely understood. Once, I angrily asked a guy who had just jumped the line what the Thai word for "standing in line" was. Queue, he said. That's English, I retorted, what is the Thai word for it? Queue, he repeated. Aha, I thought, that explains it - no word, no concept.

Years later, during a conversation with a Thai student at an Australian university, I said mockingly: no wonder that in Thailand people always jump the line, you do not even have a word for standing in line. Of course we have, she retorted. A Thai word? Yes, a Thai word. But is it used? Some people are using it, she said.

My conclusion? Be careful whom you're asking if you want to learn about another culture.

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