Face-saving is the practice of avoiding embarrassment while conducting a negotiation or discussion (Folger, Poole & Stutman, 2008). Face-saving is always aimed at preserving the people’s dignity, self-respect, personality, or good reputation during conflict and negotiation. Various theories have been proposed to explain face-saving, which is one of the strategies in conflict resolution.
The politeness theory, proposed by Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson in 1978 to explain the expression of speakers’ intent to ameliorate face-threatening acts, is one of the most well-known and influential face-saving theories (Barron, 2001, p.17). The theory is founded on the principles that participants are rational people who are concerned with their image, and that the face element includes both positive and negative dimensions.
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According to this view, face-saving is for the benefit of both parties, with the positive face signifying humans’ desire to belong, be valued, accepted, recognized, and appreciated by others. Neutral face pertains to human needs for independence and autonomy; speech is acts-based and some actions are inherently face-threatening (Barron, 2001). Face-threatening actions can quickly damage the faces of concerned people either positively or negatively.
The belief that politeness is an inherent element of human interactions and that it is not limited to individual speech acts has been popularized by Fraser in 1990, who suggested that courtesy is a major component of encounters and that it should be studied in terms of discourse rather than speech act. According to this idea, the parties begin their negotiation with preconceptions about rights and responsibilities based on their social connection. The conversational contract emerges from this notion, as well as the need to act politely in order to keep to the contract’s provisions (Barron, 2001, p.20).
A further significant face-saving theory is Leech’s theory of politeness, which distinguishes between a speaker’s illocutionary aim and a speaker’s social goal, with the speech acts being influenced by the speaker’s utterances and the position the speaker aims to take that intends to convey a certain view (Márquez-Reiter, 2000, P.8).
There are several face saving ideas, including Grice’s theory and face negotiation theory by Ting-Toomey, which address how people from various backgrounds deal with conflict. The purpose and function of politeness in negotiations and conflict resolution are all addressed by face saving theories.
Face-saving, face-giving, and face-loss are all terms that refer to a negotiation process. Face saving is the attempt to avoid humiliations during a negotiations. Face giving is the act of defending and understanding the inclusion of another party in the negotiation. It might imply comprehending the other side’s culture, customs, and communication style. Face-loss is a form of humiliation and failure in the negotiation process that affects the other party. Unless you have a strong reputation, face-loss usually causes feelings of shame and failure during the negotiation process.
Because social conditions are occasionally the source of conflict, conflict resolution experts must understand the societal aspects of face-saving. A specific male behavior, for example, may be stirring workplace conflict between the two genders, therefore it’s important to understand both parties’ social situations. Furthermore, widespread influences of one’s mother tongue on interpersonal interactions can have a significant impact on how both sides interact with each other and feel about one another.
You can establish a climate that encourages constructive conflict interaction by analyzing any non-personal issue that could be the source of the dispute, and then focusing on face-saving, non-threatening efforts to reduce personal blame games as a conflict resolution professional (Cecil & Rothwell, 2006, P.349).
This technique reduces personal charges, resulting in parties becoming more calm and logical during the negotiations. If the issue is more personal, an expert can take the analytical method by studying all of the elements that triggered the dispute, coming up with every available solution to address them, and then selecting the optimal solutions.
In the Chinese cultural context, the concept of face makes cross-cultural communication more difficult. Face is considered a person’s personal pride or respect for himself or herself. In Chinese culture, self-esteem is highly emphasized, and the idea of face is emphasized even more so. It’s a good social value that represents a person’s defense from others.
It refers to the ability of a person to project an image of themselves. It may be used to describe one’s social position or appearance. It has been defined as a “face” that can be “lost,” “granted,” or even “presented as a gift.” Though the idea of face is Chinese in origin, it is found throughout various languages and civilizations around the world. The words honor, reputation, and family prestige are commonly used in many countries across the world, demonstrating their use in different cultural traditions.
The objective concept (mianzi) is quantifiable, in that it is measured by the degree to which one has emphasized oneself in life and achieved success, whereas the subjective concept (lian) is not. The society’s confidence in someone’s moral standing ranks above any other type of disgrace.
This is demonstrated by their unwillingness to accept responsibility or wrongdoing in public, even when it is minor. The notion of face in Western cultural backgrounds is utilized as a narcissistic defense mechanism to preserve personal accountability, while for collectivist Asian cultural traditions, preserving communal identity, such as family reputation or community image , takes precedence.
An example is given of a person from a low-income family who may be unwilling to accept financial help he or she could potentially need. This may be seen as further proof of his or her family’s poverty, prompting the lack of options and means for bringing it into the family. Chinese communities are built around preserving and strengthening interpersonal connections according to face giving.
The notion of face in Chinese culture is addressed from a variety of viewpoints in studies such as semantics, social linguistics, and other disciplines. These are both scientific and aesthetic criteria by which the concept of face in Chinese culture has been demonstrated. Face to the Chinese people, according to Coggin and Coggin (2001), is the accumulated effect of an individual emotion, self-respect, and confidence.
According to the Chinese, face is a very significant part of their culture. In addition, because it may only be granted and lost in this context, it can also represent something psychological: that it may only be obtained and fought for if needed. This idea translates into fact that China’s society has infused almost every aspect of human existence. There are four distinct situations of face in China, as follows:
Where a person’s actions have been seen by others (diu-mian-zi) Where a person gives face to others by recognizing them (gei-mian-zi) Where wisdom is shown in decision making and people respect you for it (liu-mian-zi) The use of other people’s compliments and recommendations to promote one’s own face (jiang-mian-zi)
The Chinese are extremely sensitive to the issue of face. For example, it isn’t considered a “lie” if you deceive others to preserve their face. When someone denies a fault that is clearly his or hers since accepting responsibility for the mistake might be seen as a deficiency and result in loss of credibility, for example.
According to Ting-Toomey (1988), the face negotiation theory is rooted in individual and cultural identity conflict. The concept expands on international person-to-person interactions. The skills required for individuals to develop and manage their faces are referred to as face work, or rather how an individual’s social status and how it is developed and maintained during social encounters with other people. According to Ting-Toomey (1988), there are five tenants of face:
- A person’s facial orientation affects not only their appearance but also the focus of their face. Individualist cultural backgrounds emphasize saving face for one’s personal gain, while collectivist cultural backgrounds prioritize family or societal survival and individuals have collective identification.
- Facial movements or patterns that differ between communicating individuals due to cultural differences might make one of the parties feel threatened or insulted. The intensity of the conflict may be judged by a person’s facial expression. Conflicts in collectivist cultures, such as those found in China, are less severe or avoided. Individualism is more common in Western cultures, therefore conflicts are more heated.
- In Western, individualistic cultures where contact is direct, vocal, and with little context face work is required, this approach to face-to-face communication has various techniques. In collectivist eastern cultures, interaction is preferred to be indirect, nonverbal, and with high context face work. Maintaining a relationship after winning an argument and focusing on maintaining harmony between the interacting people are goals of high face effort. Low face effort focuses on preserving peace between the parties by avoiding directly addressing the problem.
- The Communication Style of Conflict is defined by behaviors learned as a result of one’s cultural background, which influence one’s ethics, values, and general conduct toward others. This is the immediate influence of the community on a person because he or she belongs to it. The degree of individualism or the degree of self-satisfaction that a person seeks; and the extent of collectivism or the individuals concern for others are split into two dimensions.
- The degree to which individuals express themselves through their faces is known as facial expression engagement. Individualists may feel compelled to maintain face, but collectivists are advocates of inclusion due to their desire for social acceptance and belonging. However, there are some similarities between the two, including ‘competence face,’ which is used by people to convey competence, brains, or capability in a specific interaction scenario.
The different parameters of intercultural communication are seen differently by people with diverse cultural backgrounds. These views are as follows:
- Time perception is one example, where in Asia, for example. Time is valued highly, and being on time is encouraged, while being late is considered unethical or impolite. Punctuality may not be as essential in Africa or the Middle East as it is in some Asian nations.
- In certain parts of the world, personal space is private, and any attempt to come close to a person is considered an intrusion, while in other areas of the globe being too far from a person when talking is seen as impolite and inconsiderate. In some countries, face-to-face meetings are preferred over behind-the-desk sessions, while in others it’s acceptable to have no barrier between members.
- Context matters when it comes to perception of verbal and non-verbal communication across nations. Non-verbal interaction is more popular in high context cultures like the Chinese, who value indirect, polite dialogue. Low context societies, on the other hand, prefer direct, less ambiguous communications that are more verbose. However, because Chinese people are less inclined to say the words “I love you,” this does not imply that there isn’t any affection between them. Western couples, on the other hand, like expressing these words even if they don’t mean them. Chinese society places a greater emphasis on things that demonstrate love between partners.
- In terms of our discussion, it’s critical to examine a face from the metonym standpoint, which refers to the outward appearance as it’s the most distinctive element of our body on our interactive side. The faced has an emotive aspect owing to its own particular characteristics such as the nose, brows, and mouth.
Facial expressions are one of the most significant elements in determining a person’s personality. This connection between human emotions and characters represented as faces has a significant influence on psychology (Russell & Fernandez-Dols, 1997). The study of face and character has been incorporated into linguistics in more recent research (Wierzbicka, 1999), because it considers it to be natural, making it seem like an artistic production.
The facial expressions of both men and women are expressed in the Beijing opera. The Beijing opera, for example, focuses on depicting its characters based on how they portray their faces. There are a lot of compounds and idioms in Chinese culture that express sentiments and emotions about what happens to your face. As previously said, the face is the most distinctive aspect of our interactional side, therefore it is the focus of social and physical relationships in terms of social and physical interaction.
Face is a powerful tool for promoting human interaction, as demonstrated by the Chinese term mou-mian, which means seek-face and translates to meet; meet one another; get acquainted with one other (according to Wierzbicka, 1993), “Reading human faces: Emotion and components universal semantics” This lexicon in a nutshell says that individuals are able to express their emotions about other people , so it’s a sign of interpersonal relationships.
The notion of face in Chinese culture has been shown to make intercultural communication more difficult, and the reason for this is that “mianzi” means “face” and “guanxi” means “social connections,” both of which are used in Chinese. The practice of bending the truth, which is prevalent in most countries around the world, has another aspect of Chinese culture that makes intercultural communication difficult. In most countries, however, telling a lie is frowned upon because it implies bad moral character.
In a society where being called a liar is undesirable, the problem of revealing a lie in Chinese culture becomes more complicated. Whereas it is reasonable to stick to the truth, for an outsider of Chinese culture, confronting father away from a positive result as the Chinese culture drives them back making their important exchange more difficult. Finally, it’s worth noting that because the Chinese culture makes intercultural communication more difficult, it’s vital to highlight that the Chinese education system focuses on listening before speaking (Yu, 1998).
Chinese people are sensitive to Americanization. Throughout the 19th century, Chinese immigrants came to the US in search of work. Many of them were poor farmers who immigrated during times of famine or war when there was no other choice for survival -> Chinese people are easily triggered by Americanization. During the 1800s, Chinese workers migrated to America in search of employment. Many of them were rural peasants who emigrated as a result of hunger or conflict when there was no alternative but to survive.
Erving Goffman (1922-1982) was a Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as President of the American Sociological Association before dying in 1982. Goffman is regarded as the founder of face-to-face interaction study, and his works have had a major influence on microsociology. His writings are frequently quoted in other work.
Goffman’s initial essay from his book entitled ‘Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-face Behavior’ is about face work. It examines various methods of human interaction, as well as five more essays in this volume, and focuses on the idea of the face. The piece is divided into sections with subheadings that make it easy to follow the themes being discussed.
Footnotes are used frequently to provide further explanation of ideas being advanced and also direct us to sources with additional information. This study allows us a great understanding of how we portray ourselves to others when interacting in our daily lives.
In sociology, as well as in society, social interaction is a critical topic. Goffman’s essay on face-work offers its reader clear and simple explanations of social interactions. Micro sociology was his theoretical framework, and his study took on a dramaturgical approach. He gives detailed definitions as well as examples to illustrate his ideas. Goffman defines face as “the positive social value a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he has taken during a particular contact” (Goffman, p.5).
Dr. Goffman’s essay provides a framework for the ritualized nature of this line. He claims that they have been pre-scripted and that the pattern of verbal and non-verbal actions applies to each person in turn. The concept of face or our self-image, according on Goffman, allows us to manage our identity in social interactions. We modify how we speak and what we say based on where we are or who we’re speaking with. We assume roles such as friend, brother, sister, parent, work colleague, and presenter when interacting with others.