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  1. #1
    My kind of town
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    Losing And Saving Face - Your Thoughts

    This Thai culture thing about losing and saving face is really troublesome to me. I understand that is it part of Thai culture, but where did it come from and why?

    Is it the rich trying to keep the poor in place? Have they taught them too well to not complain or ever raise their voice or get loud when they are getting taken advantage of? is this under the guise of subduing their emotions, but really an attempt to oppress the lower class?

    I see plenty of rich Thais and Thai Chinese being loud and complaining about every little thing.

    Aside from what I have personally seen, just look at the Thai soaps - it is always the rich, spoiled brat chewing out the poor, oppressed servant. is this just television or is it closer to the real truth???

    Guys, your thoughts?

  2. #2
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    ^
    i think it's a concept very much manufactured by westerners.

    not sure that a lot of thais have any actual concept of "face"

  3. #3
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    It is not just a Thai thing, it is quite general in Asian societies, maybe originating in China

    but you also seem to misunderstand the concept, judging by your remarks

    Face refers to two separate but related concepts in Chinese social relations. One is mianzi (Chinese: 面子), and the other is lian (Traditional Chinese: 臉, Simplified Chinese: ), which are both used commonly in everyday speech rather than in formal writings.
    Lian is the confidence of society in a person's moral character, while mianzi represents social perceptions of a person's prestige. For a person to maintain face is important with Chinese social relations because face translates into power and influence and affects goodwill. A loss of lian would result in a loss of trust within a social network, while a loss of mianzi would likely result in a loss of authority. To illustrate the difference, gossiping about someone stealing from a cash register would cause a loss of lian but not mianzi. Repeatedly interrupting one's boss as he is trying to speak may cause the boss a loss of mianzi but not lian.
    When trying to avoid conflict, Chinese in general will avoid causing another person to lose mianzi by not bringing up embarrassing facts in public. Conversely, when challenging authority and another person's standing within a community, Chinese will often attempt to cause a loss of lian or mianzi. A very public example of this occurred during the Tiananmen protests of 1989 when Wu'er Kaixi scolded Premier Li Peng for being late to a meeting with the demonstrators, resulting in Li's loss of mianzi because he was seen as either tardy or insincere about the meeting.
    Notice that directly lying doesn't cause a loss of face. For example, if a reservation is cancelled by an airline, then they can lie that it is merely delayed. Inability to arrange the trip would cause a loss of face, while lying that it is delayed does not.[citation needed] So-called "polite lies" are perfectly acceptable, and even expected.
    Similar concepts also exist in Arabic, Korean, Malay, Laotian, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai cultures. See also embarrassment in Western cultures.
    The last sentence can help you relate to it, embarrasment being a big part of it, combined with social standing
    I have reported your post

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat
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    It comesd from their chinese roots.

  5. #5
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    when i tore the picture out of some poor guy's passport, i reacted in a very thai like manner and refused to deal with it whatsoever.

    when i eventually dealt with it i lied horribly.

    i think it's rather human.

    either that or i have become very thai.

  6. #6
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    the third option is that you are Welsh

  7. #7
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    Thais are taught to show massive respect for power & wealth (however modest) from the moment they are born, especially for him at the top & some pretend God, in an obsessive, almost childish way & when somethng has been drummed into you so hard all your life it's something you will struggle to let go of.

    There's a very deep-rooted sense of hierarchy.

  8. #8
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    beaten to it!

  9. #9
    Mea-Culpa
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy
    the third option is that you are Welsh

  10. #10
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    ^
    i tried to green you for your fat bastard on death row thread but wasn't allowed.

    have a virtual red instead.

  11. #11
    Mea-Culpa
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    ^ You are almost as polite with words like Stroller....

  12. #12
    punk douche bag
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    ^
    sadly I have to shuffle off to the disconnected new place.

    think I'm a kunt hair away from going postal without internet access.

    tara all.

  13. #13
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    Im a very bad loser and cannot help showing it whatever the situation.

    I was playing tennis against a random Thai guy at local tennis courts and when I was winning everything was great but as soon as he started winning and a loss for the walrus was on the cards I walked off leaving him with a tirade of expletives....

    I never did return to finish the farking match !

    Not sure why this is so as I am usually a very mild mannered and respectful walrus in all other facets of my life.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shitman View Post
    Thais are taught to show massive respect for power & wealth (however modest) from the moment they are born, especially for him at the top & some pretend God, in an obsessive, almost childish way & when somethng has been drummed into you so hard all your life it's something you will struggle to let go of.

    There's a very deep-rooted sense of hierarchy.
    yes, that may be so but we are talking about "face" here, and that covers all sections of society. Moneyand power have little to do with it, except maybe the stakes are then higher

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy View Post
    we are talking about "face" here
    It's never the poor person who reacts, say violently, against a wealthy one (farangs are an execption) to save face, it's always the one with the percieved power, as the little guy is too busy showing childish respect.

    There's a link.

  16. #16
    Mea-Culpa
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    Quote Originally Posted by walrus
    I was playing tennis against a random Thai guy at local tennis courts and when I was winning everything was great but as soon as he started winning and a loss for the walrus was on the cards I walked off leaving him with a tirade of expletives....
    Find a sport where you cant lose..

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon View Post
    ^
    i think it's a concept very much manufactured by westerners.

    not sure that a lot of thais have any actual concept of "face"


    And here I thought we sent all our manufacturing to China?

  18. #18
    The cold, wet one
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    I thought saving face was more like what happened to me yesterday. I told my usual songthaew driver I wanted to go to the dog center but asked him to stop at a hotel on the way (I had to pick up some students from BKK staying there). I knew we'd never stopped at that hotel before & he might be unfamiliar with it (it's fairly new), so I was surprised & pleased that he said he knew it. Anyway, of course, we went sailing past the place. When I directed him back he apologised but said he didn't know it. Wasn't the reason that he didn't tell me that he didn't know it initially 'saving face'? That's always the understanding I had of the concept.

  19. #19
    bkkmadness
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    Saving face, do you really think that was his main concern?

    I think he said 'Yes I know it' was because he trying to get a fare that might have otherwise walked off if he said he didn't know the hotel.

  20. #20
    Northern Hermit
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown
    This Thai culture thing about losing and saving face is really troublesome to me. I understand that is it part of Thai culture, but where did it come from and why?
    "Saving Face," "Losing face." I'm not sure about others on this board, but these are terms I grew up with. Long before I even knew tehre was a Thailand Asia or world outside my own little neighborhood.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon
    i think it's a concept very much manufactured by westerners. not sure that a lot of thais have any actual concept of "face"
    I think the concept of "face" or "ego" is a universal one. The Thais had the term "Sia Na" long before western folks ever showed up on their shores.
    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy
    It is not just a Thai thing, it is quite general in Asian societies, maybe originating in China
    Again, not sure it is an Asian "thing." Seems quite common for People to avoid losing face wherever I have ever been. Asian societies seem to take a pragmatic attitude towards human foibles in some respect compared to many western cultures. Accepting that people have egos and do not want to be proven wrong or put in embarrassing situations they have learned to adjust their expectations and behaviors. Western (should that be Christian?) Societies tend to practice that "don't ask, don't tell" approach to many common human traits the idea of "face" being one of them.

    While different things within the separate societies may bring about "Big Face" or "Broken Face." there is a commonality inthe idea of "face." THe concept is more openly discussed and blatantly practiced in Asiab but is hardly unique to the region or culture.

    People here are raised with the idea of face and some of the people can take it to an extreme that is an exaggeration of what many western folks will think defines "face." But You can see this behavior in many segments of your own society.

    People have been killed over a loss of face in the west. The "Keep up with the Joneses" is another form of "Face Building" I think you will fiond in most middle class segments of any western society eve if the Joneses happen to be the Wojohoitzes, Rugerrellios or Gomezes.

    In western societies, the desire to build big face by buying a car is something I doubt people would admit to, or wanting to beat someone up or even suicides because o a loss of face. The concept of "Face is in no way new to western people. The Asian attitude towards and acceptance of "Face" may be a shock for many though.
    When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty -- T. Jefferson


  21. #21
    The cold, wet one
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkkmadness View Post
    Saving face, do you really think that was his main concern?

    I think he said 'Yes I know it' was because he trying to get a fare that might have otherwise walked off if he said he didn't know the hotel.
    Not in this case. I use him all the time & he knows that I'll direct him to places that he doesn't know. I was on my way to the center, anyway, so he knew I wanted to go there & would pay to go there. If it wasn't saving face, then I don't know what it was.

  22. #22
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    Loosing or saving face doesn't means nothing to me. I've just never been in such a situation in my entire life.
    Why the fuck would you argue with somebody ? Some nose (intuition) is useful (required) though.

  23. #23
    I am in Jail
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    Face is all a poor Issan farmer has (apart from debt and 2 daughters in Pattaya) so hence the strong need for his society to force younger people to wai him. It's similar to Wales where the only thing the poor taffys have (apart from store-card debts and empty mines) is ugly faces.

  24. #24
    bkkmadness
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    ^^ And it couldn't have possibly been because of some fetish he has about been dominated by a western woman? Was you wearing your leather flip flops? Did he say 'Yes I know the hotel, it's 20 Baht' or 'Yes Mistress, please pay me with the pain I deserve.'?

    Sometimes I think you people take these simple things too far.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown View Post
    This Thai culture thing about losing and saving face is really troublesome to me. I understand that is it part of Thai culture, but where did it come from and why?

    Is it the rich trying to keep the poor in place? Have they taught them too well to not complain or ever raise their voice or get loud when they are getting taken advantage of? is this under the guise of subduing their emotions, but really an attempt to oppress the lower class?

    I see plenty of rich Thais and Thai Chinese being loud and complaining about every little thing.

    Aside from what I have personally seen, just look at the Thai soaps - it is always the rich, spoiled brat chewing out the poor, oppressed servant. is this just television or is it closer to the real truth???

    Guys, your thoughts?
    Loads of threads lately about status and poverty and stuff.

    ...Anyway, I highlighted what I think.

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