Social Life in Laos
The Lao are somewhat conservative in most aspects of their lives partially due to
their Buddhist faith, which preaches modesty. The people are also somewhat isolated
so are not well aware of outside customs and traditions, meaning what you may consider
normal, may be interpreted as offensive by the Lao. Fortunately, curiosity often
trumps offence in the country and the people are rarely outgoing enough to question
your poor behaviors.
The Lao people are proud and insulting them or putting a person
down in anyway can be very offensive as the person will feel "shamed."
In much the same way, the Lao will rarely give you critical advice or insult you
in fear of "shaming" you. This is especially true in business. Turning
down a business offer in the wrong way may, unknowingly, be an insult and could
force your contact to feel so shamed that he will actually quit his job; if all
hope is lost on a deal, allow your local counterpart to gracefully exit the situation
so he can save "face."
Finally, try to avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances,
religion, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid
being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.