Do Indonesians say thank you less than others?

john madden

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My javanese wife often rails against what she perceives as lack of manners from her compatriots. If she gives e.g. the envelope with cash for a new baby there is rarely any reaction. The same lack of acknowledgement occurs with any other gift.
Have others observed this? Is it more a javanese thing? What's it about? Are there other nationalities or groups that behave similarly? My observations in Australia are that good manners are generally far more in evidence than in Java.
 

nosox

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from my experience in mostly Sundanese Ciamis is quite the opposite. With parents encouraging kids to say thank you if they receive something
Greeting others with a cheery "Selamat pagi" is catching on round here :D I like to think I've had something to do with that. Much better than the customary grunt
 

steveandpenny

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With gifts I notice that cultural here it's very subdued. Frist they dont want to open it in front of you and dont expect a big thank you. It was weird at frist. But when you aren't around they post it on FB and show it to every one they know or leave it out so everyone will see what they got.
Dont take it personally it's just how it's done here though we do miss the excitement of giving someone a gift and seeing the excitement. So keep on giving .
 

nosox

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I also was informed that opening a gift you receive in front of the person who gave it is not "done"
 

harryopal

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Try Somalia. Give a hitchhiker a lift for a hundred ks, stop at their direction. They are out of the car and off no thanks. I believe the assumption is that of course you do something for someone else.
 

Puspawarna

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My experience in Indonesia has mostly been lavish thanks from peers that I've helped - it is true that the thanks from staff for generous gifts are perhaps a BIT subdued. But with the exception of one individual, who has annoyed the crap out of me because I did a lot for him and rarely got even a minimal "thanks," I've felt fine about the expressions of thankfulness. (The one individual is extremely Javanese though - he's from Sragen. I have always assumed he's a bit of a jerk in some ways, but maybe I've been overlooking a cultural explanation all along.)

The nationality that doesn't say "thank you", in my experience, is Mozambican (I lived there for a while, 1997-2001). A long time ago (maybe 15 years or so) there were terrible floods in Mozambique, and a bunch of South African pilots flew daring helicopter rescue missions out of the goodness of their hearts to save people. I do remember one news story about it, where they quoted a pilot as saying, "and when they got out of the helicopter, they were so exhausted they didn't even say thank you for the rescue." I thought that was diplomatic. In his heart, the pilot was probably thinking, "I'm glad I saved them, but boy were they assholes."

As always, it's just a cultural thing. It was explained to me that people in need don't say "thank you" because it means, "that's enough, I don't need anything more." That country was so poor that EVERYBODY always needed more. It was a pretty tragic place to live - and I wasn't there for the worst of it, things were getting better by 1997. Still, it was heartbreakingly poor.
 
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Bad_azz

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"My observations in Australia are that good manners are generally far more in evidence than in Java." <<<from an Australian's POV.

I guess it has to be what your perspective of good manners is.
My husband, family & friends are all very polite, but shy (shy doesn't fit- malu does). They do their damnedest to do what is seen as very proper and correct in their culture.
It might not be what you see as proper and correct in your culture though. They certainly always thank me- same with any people I have mixed with in Jakarta... I can honestly say I don't think I have ever met an Indonesian person who has been overly rude or impolite (when sober- I met a fair few pains in the arse who were drunk)

Maybe your wife's family just don't like her much & take it for granted that she should be handing over something.
Let's not forget the personal aspect in all of this.
 

jstar

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You what's kind of awkward? I've always been taught to respond Sama[sup]2[/sup] (or sami[sup]2[/sup] in Javanese) after getting a thank you. But most waitresses here respond with "yaah" -with intonation at the end going down- after you thank them. Wife can't explain and at first even thought I was BS-ing her, had to point it out to her. ("Did you hear that? Did you hear that? You see I'm right?!")
 

john madden

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Not family BA, and my wife is the one who is comparing what she experiences to her own values. I observe the difference in my experiences in Java and Australia. Interesting the remarks about other cultures.
 

Anglian

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When our young nephew comes round, he likes to help my wife cook as he wants to go to college to be a chef, when he gets his lunch he always thanks me before he starts to eat
 

waarmstrong

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The airport in Bali is packed with people trying to get home after Agung shut the place down for most of the day. I heard the closure effected 75,000 travelers. On two occasions Indonesian women tried to jump the line. One spoke English, I thing she was from Java. I told her, "I know all the people in front of me and you are not one of them." She did get back, but was indignantly muttering,"this is my country; you should get out," as well as cursing loudly under her breath.
I often observe a ritualized
 

John_Oates

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I've had it explained to me a few times as close family and friends tend not to say thanks for routine things like helping, buying dinner and presents (yes, Java, possibly other parts of Indonesia, is a present giving culture). A thank you can be taken as they are outsiders.

Not sure other people's thoughts about this, but resonates with my experience.

I always have to factor in individual differences too. There are a lot of people who are thankful and proudly tell others of your generosity - whilst some people are just ungrateful.
 

Nimbus

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In general Javanese folks know how to say thanks, but the frequency is typically much less than, say, Americans. An orang Jawa would say matur nuwun in occasions where an American would say "thank you very much!". Think of a Javanese "thank you" as something similar to a public apology. He would not commonly thank his server for bringing a dish, or his friend for passing the sambal. There was (is?) a more pronounced level of social hierarchy, where a person of a higher station expects to be served, so a formal expression of gratitude wasn't necessary.

There's also plain old embarrassment for having to accept monetary aid. Spelling out gratitude makes it worse, so people tend to leave it out.

I find it very interesting that my mom has changed over the years. Growing up she was a typical Javanese, where thank yous were reserved for big deals. Today she says thanks for everything, due to her exposure to our life here in USA.

On the flip side, I remember an Indonesian comedy sketch complaining about foreigners saying thank you this and thank you that. Too bad I can't find it on youtube anymore.
 

Anglian

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Here’s something Indonesians don’t do, they will let a door slam in your face rather than hold it open for you, and if you hold the door open for them they look at you in total surprise, they just don’t seem to understand if someone is behind you as you pass through the door you prevent it slamming the person behind
 

Anglian

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Here’s something Indonesians very rarely do and thats hold a door open for you if you are following behind, they just let the door slam in your face, and if you prevent a door slamming at them they look in blank amazement
 

kroshka

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I was just attending a wedding the last week end - an acquaintance got married.. I made the card and the envelop, and put in IDR 500,000 - as far as I understand that would be a bit more than the average.. They noticed I left quite early, and have commented on that afterwards .. but have not said said "thank you for coming and your present".. (Maybe they still do the excel sheet thing)
 

jstar

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Think of a Javanese "thank you" as something similar to a public apology. He would not commonly thank his server for bringing a dish, or his friend for passing the sambal. There was (is?) a more pronounced level of social hierarchy, where a person of a higher station expects to be served, so a formal expression of gratitude wasn't necessary.

 

Felicity

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Sometimes I also don't understand when I say thank you and the person I thanked for (westerners) said "thank you" back at me or "no worries" or "no problem", why not "you're welcome". I might also have 'value standard' of expecting "you're welcome" like some of you would expect "sama-sama". But apparently there are other ways to say/express it. Maybe that's part of the culture or just habit of one person. Why bother.

However, I hope this discussion is not leading to stereotyping about a certain culture or race. It's been spread widely to say 3 magical words; Terimakasih, Maaf, Tolong (Thank you, Sorry, Please) all over the world, not just in Indonesia, shows that it's not an issue of a specific culture or country. Therefore, I wouldn't agree to highlight a broad aspect such as culture as generalisation of a few people's specific behaviours.

In fact, it leads me to a question, what is your wife's intention when giving/helping? Is it purely altruistic gesture or does she expect something in return such as saying "thank you" or other appreciation to fulfil her value standard or your standard of good manner.

Sometimes the way we criticise one's behaviour only show more about ourselves than them. There's a saying, when you pointing one finger to somebody, at the same time three fingers pointing at yourself. But what do I know, I'm just psychobabbling.
 
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