The subject of Greng Jai is very interesting when it comes to Thai and Farang relationships. I never used to think about it too much before but now I do see how it can cause a problem. I have written about it on this site but this conversation with Dean you might find interesting because he gives a westerner perspective on greng jai.
Dean: Well I don’t have too much problem with it because I try to see it for what it is and not what our western culture thinks it should be or whether it is right or wrong and anyway in our own way we greng jai too.
Dean: Western people also Greng jai in fact we actually lie sometimes…greng lie..lol…but serious we do, take this for instance…if we get invited to a party and we don’t want to go we will very often make an excuse not to go..like someone is sick, or we cant get babysitters or we have to work late. In fact we don’t want to go but in the interest of being polite we will make an excuse…but actually this is lying or is it greng jai?
Angella: What about when people get together for dinner and you have take-away because as a Thai I would wait to find out what people want first and then go with that, even if I want something different
Dean: Well for us and maybe this is an English/Aussie thing but we will be open about what we all want and then go with a majority decision. We might even make a joke of it all and pretend to be upset but we will do what everyone else wants…but this is joking but we will be open about it all.
I mean really greng jai is in the positive way like you said..a healthy respect for the feelings of other people and not wishing to upset them unnecessarily if you no need to. If you really look at this in the extreme then really in the west we always lie. We are not honest because we don’t go around saying exactly what we think about everything..that would be chaos..lol
Dean: Hahaha…yes like hey what do you think of my new dress does it make me look fat…haha..and you answer, yes actually I don’t like it at all and it makes you look fat and ugly. I mean c’mon we just don’t do that..we would have no friends…lol and we call ourselves honest.
Angella: I have another example story of greng jai. Once when I was working Amway I went to a mans house family. They had very little money and lived in a very small room. I was sat down on the floor and his wife was cooking in a pot right there next to me…his children would sleep right there too. They all lived in this small place and I arrived in my big car and stuff to talk about Network Marketing. They offered me food..and it was just a little bowl. The spoon was sharp and would have to be careful not to cut your mouth. But I felt I could not say no. I greng jai because I felt that it would be rude and they would feel that I pity them too much or maybe feel their food is not good enough for me. So I did have some.
Dean: Wow. Exactly. Actually I can understand that and really it’s a sign of respecting that what they offer you is value to them to offer it to you. They feel honor to give and share this with you so to say no would not be a good thing in that case. That makes a lot of sense
Angella: So Thaïs we greng jai a lot, everyday and all the time but we not do it to lie or be untruthful like many Farang say we do.; I know it seems like an excuse but it is not. Yes of course you will always get some who take it too far and use it in the wrong way but that is because they are not genuine. Sincere and good people only greng jai for the right reason out of respect for others feelings and not to make conflict, we like peaceful and easy and not be difficult.
Dean: Yes I’m sure some Farang will take that and say it is all BS..in fact I have heard some say that and they will say its just a handy excuse for Thaïs to lie. Personally I can understand but I think it is a little shortsighted to think this way and also unfair. Just because they have got mixed up with some unscrupulous Thaïs they paint everyone with the same brush, but you will always get that. The truth is that Farang are not the most honest culture by any means. As I said there is plenty of BS in Western culture.
Dean: Sure…and same reason, they will say they are good and honest people yet they will make excuses. And that’s what we call it…making excuses. But really it is lying…what’s the difference. Ok I know really but I just want to make the point so we can see things in perspective and for other westerners not to get too high and mighty about Thaïs and greng jai and how they believe Thaïs lie too much because we are no better , we just give it a different name..lol I’m sure I will get a few comments about this …haha.
Angella: And sure I do say that Western men should be careful of this because some Thai women will use greng jai as an excuse if they are not a sincere Thai. I know this is where we get a bad name from and same some Thai men can also use greng jai in this way but this because they are not sincere Thai.
Dean: Well not exactly but I know it is part of your culture and so I must accept that and not fight against it, I know that with sincere people it is meant in a good way and not a bad way to conceal or deceive so really it is my own responsibility to be a good judge of character in the first place and sniff out insincere people, just like it is in the West.