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Do Thai People Not Like Direct Questions ?


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Oops....the topic title should read "_Do_ Thai people".....etc.....but this keyboard is vey old.

My Thai wife does not always answer questions directly. It sometimes seems like she is providing an answer to another question entirely, though her English is OK and she is an educated person.

Do other members have the same experience ?

Edited by Tywais
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The one that gets me is, all the locals know my business. I ask my wife what is Lek doing there? All I get is not you business.

I think it might be a female thing, men are just more direct. I too have this with Mrs. Rakers and find myself preceding questions with "just say yes or no" The comedian Alan Davies has observed it a

I think it might be a female thing, men are just more direct. I too have this with Mrs. Rakers and find myself preceding questions with "just say yes or no"

The comedian Alan Davies has observed it also:

"If you ask a man directions to the post office, he'll give you directions to the post office

Ask a woman directions to the post office and she'll ask "Why, do you want to buy a stamp?""

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i would agree in certain circumstances !

ask a direct question and you will sometimes get some sort of answer in a round about way after trying to explain yourself for the fifth time. there's always a feeling though by that look in their eye that they know exactly what your going on about and its amazing how quickly some things are understood when an answer to a question could benefit them in the long run.

still i have always thought though that two can play at that kind of mind game and act just as dumb in some scenarios. the best ones are when in conversation with a total stranger over something and half way through you let on that you can actually speak a bit of the lingo.

oh, the look on their boat race, priceless ! wink.gif

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ask a direct question and you will sometimes get some sort of answer in a round about way after trying to explain yourself for the fifth time. there's always a feeling though by that look in their eye that they know exactly what your going on about and its amazing how quickly some things are understood when an answer to a question could benefit them in the long run.

That is the part I try to not think about, as it irritates.

I shall have to observe this whole phenomenon more closely and mindfully, and report my observations......

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You will get good results if you change your sentence from a question into a normal sentence and include wrong information at the same time.

I have noticed that many Thais seem too happy at the opportunity to correct you and will give you true and straightforward info.

i.e. don't ask "where do you parents live?" --> this will induce some thinking about why you ask the question, what you will do with this information and wether to tell you the truth or not. In doubt, better to lie.

but say "your parents live in Buriram, chai mai?" --> instant answer: mai chai, they in Khon Kaen.

works about 80% of the time.

I think a reason why direct questions are a bit uncommon may be a face thing, the asker appears clueless, but the puts the asked person in even greater danger of seeming ignorant, that's why one gets so much wrong info in shops.

On the contrary, if you give them opportunity to gain face, you will get your answers.

Edited by manarak
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Guys

I have asked this question before elsewhere and it is not a Thai thing but a female thing. That's not sexist at all, just that we have our differences.

It is easy to see why we might think it's a Thai thing because most of our conversations are with Thai women. I have male Thai friends and they are more direct.

Ask a Thai guy from Phuket where he's from, and he'll say Phuket

Ask a Thai girl from Phuket where she's from, and she'll ask if you have been to the South of Thailand and if you like the beach.

My own (farang) female family members back home are just the same. it's a difference between how males and females communicate that is not limited to Thai's

Of course, some individuals are different, but that's pretty much the way it is.

Edited by Moonrakers
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You will get good results if you change your sentence from a question into a normal sentence and include wrong information at the same time.

I have noticed that many Thais seem too happy at the opportunity to correct you and will give you true and straightforward info.

i.e. don't ask "where do you parents live?" --> this will induce some thinking about why you ask the question, what you will do with this information and wether to tell you the truth or not. In doubt, better to lie.

but say "your parents live in Buriram, chai mai?" --> instant answer: mai chai, they in Khon Kaen.

works about 80% of the time.

I think a reason why direct questions are a bit uncommon may be a face thing, the asker appears clueless, but the puts the asked person in even greater danger of seeming ignorant, that's why one gets so much wrong info in shops.

On the contrary, if you give them opportunity to gain face, you will get your answers.

OP was not talking about "girlfriends". B)

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Moonrakers: You may be partly correct (indeed, I suspect you are) but in fact it is not merely a gender thing in my opinion; many people (Thais among them) far more learned than I on the subject of Thai culture, have written and lectured on the Thai (or even Asian) general tendency to avoid direct communication.

And while I won't claim to be an expert, I've made both a casual and concentrated study of this place for nearly 3 decades and my experience has been that they are right.

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I think a reason why direct questions are a bit uncommon may be a face thing, the asker appears clueless, but the puts the asked person in even greater danger of seeming ignorant, that's why one gets so much wrong info in shops.

On the contrary, if you give them opportunity to gain face, you will get your answers.

I agree, it's a face thing. I am in trouble if I ask "why" about anything and I am in trouble a lot because I am a very curious person...I ask "why ?"a lot. I think since Thai people in general do not like confrontations in any form, and questions like "why" make them feel "confronted", then many responses will go the long way to avoid being deemed as incorrect or even ignorant.

I have, however, make the huge mistake of teaching my wife to answer "because", so now I still don't get a proper answer...just "because".

mario299 :rolleyes:

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The one that gets me is, all the locals know my business. I ask my wife what is Lek doing there? All I get is not you business. B)

I never get that reply (from my wife or anyone I can think of). In fact, I find Thais almost always ready to gossip with me.

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yes, the wife does it regular, it drives me nuts. you ask a question and she just doesnt answer or says - ewh ewh ewh, i cant even spell the sound she makes, but it is in the affirmative. when you ask her back- what did i just say, she looks at you blank. i have learned along time ago that farang giving an opinion or atempting to help the situation by asking a question, is frowed upon by thais. they will try everything else, every other avenue before they will attempt the suggestion given by farang. and even then they will attribute the idea to someone else in the group as you are standing there screaming that it was your idea in the first place. obviously when you are screaming at them they arnt listening anyway.

however - if i say to the wife lets go put some money in the bank for your mum, i get a reply everytime.

if i say will we go buy you some gold. i get a prompt reply.

if i ask her to remind me next thursday at 10.32 a.m we need to go buy something for her benefit. she remembers on the exact day at the exact time.

they use what i believe is called selective hearing. and it drives me nuts.:blink:

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Rofl, no they absolutely HATE it. Asking a Thai a direct question just fooks them all up, and expecting a direct answer is like expecting Jesus to float down from the clouds and grant you 3 wishes. It aint gonna happen.

This is my experience also. Especially when the real answer to the question might entail someone losing face.

This only shows how backward a culture is when truth is sacrificed over the aspect of loss of face or being embarrassed over something trivial.

Edited by KeyserSoze01
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yes, the wife does it regular, it drives me nuts. you ask a question and she just doesnt answer or says - ewh ewh ewh, i cant even spell the sound she makes, but it is in the affirmative. when you ask her back- what did i just say, she looks at you blank. i have learned along time ago that farang giving an opinion or atempting to help the situation by asking a question, is frowed upon by thais. they will try everything else, every other avenue before they will attempt the suggestion given by farang. and even then they will attribute the idea to someone else in the group as you are standing there screaming that it was your idea in the first place. obviously when you are screaming at them they arnt listening anyway.

however - if i say to the wife lets go put some money in the bank for your mum, i get a reply everytime.

if i say will we go buy you some gold. i get a prompt reply.

if i ask her to remind me next thursday at 10.32 a.m we need to go buy something for her benefit. she remembers on the exact day at the exact time.

Wow. I don't envy you at all. And I'm grateful that my experience is so different.

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You have heard the old expression, 'he/she can't walk and crew gum at the same time'?

You have to judge when to ask a question, find one of those times when they are doing something which is like auto pilot, eating, resting, etc, then ask the question or as mentioned make a incorrect statement about the subject and you will get an ear full.

When we are asked a question that we may not know the answer immediately, we may say 'what' which lets get our thoughts together to provide an answer, while the question is being asked again. Sometimes we ask questions that they do not know because they think in different parameters. Direction related to north etc, come to mind, as well as distance in kilometers. We also need to remember that few Thai speak and think in our native tongue thus they may have a gap for mental translation, if a block is hit, a question may be your answer. Why you ask? As individuals are at different levels and have different educations, experiences, upbringing etc, I doubt that many have the exact same circumstances or have a universal solution and many of us do not even see it as a problem or unique to Thailand.

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yes, the wife does it regular, it drives me nuts. you ask a question and she just doesnt answer or says - ewh ewh ewh, i cant even spell the sound she makes, but it is in the affirmative. when you ask her back- what did i just say, she looks at you blank. i have learned along time ago that farang giving an opinion or atempting to help the situation by asking a question, is frowed upon by thais. they will try everything else, every other avenue before they will attempt the suggestion given by farang. and even then they will attribute the idea to someone else in the group as you are standing there screaming that it was your idea in the first place. obviously when you are screaming at them they arnt listening anyway.

however - if i say to the wife lets go put some money in the bank for your mum, i get a reply everytime.

if i say will we go buy you some gold. i get a prompt reply.

if i ask her to remind me next thursday at 10.32 a.m we need to go buy something for her benefit. she remembers on the exact day at the exact time.

they use what i believe is called selective hearing. and it drives me nuts.:blink:

Have you tried to show her a road map and asked for directions? :lol:

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Sheesh, even the Thais know they do this! If they didn't they wouldn't have the phrase "พูดอ้อม ๆ" (phuutF aawmF aawmF); as in "speaking in an indirect or roundabout manner".

When I first started learning Thai I remarked to another foreigner in the class that I was apprehensive learning the language of a country where the word "no" translates word-4-word into; "not yes".

It didn't instill confidence in me about their ability to give direct answers then and going on 6 years here it still doesn’t. :whistling:

They can and often DO give some of the most oblique, circuitous and totally bizarre answers to the simplest questions, often of the yes or no variety. :lol:

I think the cultural phenomena of 'not wanting to offend someone' or make them 'lose face' by saying "no" outright, makes them a little more creative in the ways they come up with to say it. ;)

My personal experience goes against the poster known as “Moonrakers” insofar as ANY Thai will give oblique answers to most direct questions unless they are of the mundane variety like, ‘Where’s the bathroom?’, 'Do you need some money?' etc. :ermm:

Here is my most memorable occurrence of this behavior;

I was lost whilst driving up country, saw an old Thai man walking on the side of the road, so pulled over and walked up to him. After exchanging greetings and pleasantries in Thai, I asked if this road went to ‘where ever it was I was going’, and he said yes just stay on it. He didn't motion one way or the other, just said, keep on this road.

Another 20 kilometers down the road; I saw a sign saying that where I wanted to go was the opposite direction I was traveling!! :blink:

Now perhaps the old man didn’t want me to “lose face” by saying, “You’re going the wrong way, you stupid foreigner!”, or perhaps he didn’t wanna “lose face” by telling me he didn’t know the answer himself.

I questioned a Thai at my destination about it. He told me, “You know the old man was right. You asked only if the road you were on went here, you didn’t ask which way to go on it to get here”… :P

It still sticks in my head, lol….

Edited by tod-daniels
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I can't recall getting too many straight answers to straight questions. It doesn't bother me anymore.

Those of us that have deeper social integration roots have found the easy absorption of fuzzy Thai rhetoric, distracting Thai misdirection, subliminal contradictions, everything Kreng Jai, etc. Just go with the flow......:jap:

Edited by zzaa09
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D

yes, the wife does it regular, it drives me nuts. you ask a question and she just doesnt answer or says - ewh ewh ewh, i cant even spell the sound she makes, but it is in the affirmative. when you ask her back- what did i just say, she looks at you blank. i have learned along time ago that farang giving an opinion or atempting to help the situation by asking a question, is frowed upon by thais. they will try everything else, every other avenue before they will attempt the suggestion given by farang. and even then they will attribute the idea to someone else in the group as you are standing there screaming that it was your idea in the first place. obviously when you are screaming at them they arnt listening anyway.

however - if i say to the wife lets go put some money in the bank for your mum, i get a reply everytime.

if i say will we go buy you some gold. i get a prompt reply.

if i ask her to remind me next thursday at 10.32 a.m we need to go buy something for her benefit. she remembers on the exact day at the exact time.

they use what i believe is called selective hearing. and it drives me nuts.:blink:

Dude.... that is NOT normal, for all my criticism of Thai culture I know they arent THAT BAD. What you have there is a major <deleted> problem, I would be divorced in an instant. My friend, please... do yourself a favor, there is absolutely no reason to endure such disrespect and believe it or not all Thais are NOT RETARDED so the fact that you settled for one.... well there is no excuse for your mistake.

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These days, nope... if I ask a question to anyone within the family, I get a straight answer, because they know that's what I expect. Same as if anyone asks me a question, I give them a straight answer.

The family does it to be respectful, and the boyfriend does it because he knows otherwise, I'll probably be angry. And he knows when I get angry, I'll usually just head into town by myself, spend loads of money on myself, have the time of my life, and show up again around 2am usually drunk out of my skull and happier than a pig in shit. He doesn't like it when I do that though, so he usually just provides a straight answer now. :)

Edited by cdnmatt
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You will get good results if you change your sentence from a question into a normal sentence and include wrong information at the same time.

I have noticed that many Thais seem too happy at the opportunity to correct you and will give you true and straightforward info.

i.e. don't ask "where do you parents live?" --> this will induce some thinking about why you ask the question, what you will do with this information and wether to tell you the truth or not. In doubt, better to lie.

but say "your parents live in Buriram, chai mai?" --> instant answer: mai chai, they in Khon Kaen.

works about 80% of the time.

I think a reason why direct questions are a bit uncommon may be a face thing, the asker appears clueless, but the puts the asked person in even greater danger of seeming ignorant, that's why one gets so much wrong info in shops.

On the contrary, if you give them opportunity to gain face, you will get your answers.

You know what? This kind of game playing is just too tedious and infantile, if I ask a direct question I expect no less then a direct answer and anyone who allows them to play such games is just feeding the troll.. Save face on a simple question, surely you jest!

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Like previous talkers i always assumed it was a female thing.

"You like A or B darling?" "yes".....

Not sure about the way? "Can we go this road to X store?" "you know everything don't you?" better to point the wrong way and ask the same thing, then you get "no silly, that is the way" and she gives directions all the way.

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The one that gets me is, all the locals know my business. I ask my wife what is Lek doing there? All I get is not you business. B)

I never get that reply (from my wife or anyone I can think of). In fact, I find Thais almost always ready to gossip with me.

Ah yes, gossip. Most don't seem to hold back when engaging in a gossipy manner, do they?

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Rofl, no they absolutely HATE it. Asking a Thai a direct question just fooks them all up, and expecting a direct answer is like expecting Jesus to float down from the clouds and grant you 3 wishes. It aint gonna happen.

This is my experience also. Especially when the real answer to the question might entail someone losing face.

This only shows how backward a culture is when truth is sacrificed over the aspect of loss of face or being embarrassed over something trivial.

Not necessarily backward, just connected differently than what you might be accustomed to or attached models of standardization.

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Rofl, no they absolutely HATE it. Asking a Thai a direct question just fooks them all up, and expecting a direct answer is like expecting Jesus to float down from the clouds and grant you 3 wishes. It aint gonna happen.

This is my experience also. Especially when the real answer to the question might entail someone losing face.

This only shows how backward a culture is when truth is sacrificed over the aspect of loss of face or being embarrassed over something trivial.

Not necessarily backward, just connected differently than what you might be accustomed to or attached models of standardization.

I don't see why people ask such embarrassing questions. Could they not ask them in a less offensive manner? Some people are just thoughtless.

Of course, conversely, I think that it is wrong to ask a question to which someone may be obliged to lie. If you know the answer that you want, then please, don't ask the question. Some of us struggle to lie...

SC

We should perhaps get away from thinking in black and white, and think in monochrome instead; its only shades of grey. Or broaden our perception and take a more coloured view of life, if we can afford the licence fee...

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I ask direct questions to my wife all the time, and I get direct answers.

Why is my experience of Thailand so different from the majority here.

I married a quality girl, not some bargirl who would have married anyone stupid enough to ask her, and I've been fine, so why do so many here have such terrible opinions of Thai people ?

You sleep with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas, same goes in any country.

In Thailand, you'll meet plenty of Farang who are unwilling to answer a simple question, simply because they're suspicious of all other Farangs because they have too much to hide.

Give me Thai people any time. smile.gif

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Q & A added for clarity (SC)

I ask direct questions to my wife all the time, and I get direct answers.

Q: Why is my experience of Thailand so different from the majority here.

A: I married a quality girl, not some bargirl who would have married anyone stupid enough to ask her, and I've been fine, Q: so why do so many here have such terrible opinions of Thai people ?

A: You sleep with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas, same goes in any country.

In Thailand, you'll meet plenty of Farang who are unwilling to answer a simple question, simply because they're suspicious of all other Farangs because they have too much to hide.

Give me Thai people any time. smile.gif

When you talk to your wife, do you answer your own questions as well?

Would you be better off talking to yourself?

Would we all be better off if you talked to yourself?

Maybe you're the wrong person to ask...

Anyway, its always nice no know what buffoons think, if only for benchmarking, and plumbing the depths to which we can aspire.

I feel a little embarrassed at letting this thread go on so long without the obvious reply

"Why you ask that? You think I stupid / lying / sleeping etc

SC

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