When my grandmother and I chat, I sometimes share my frustrations with my Grouchy Husband’s terrible temper or challenges with my mother-in-law. I wish she would tell me “he is wrong and you should yell back at him” or “she is being unreasonable and you should not do what she wants”, but she never did. Her response was always the same, (面子), translation, “save face”.
Face is not the front part of someone’s head. Face is a complicated concept that is very important in Asian cultures. Your “face” is a combination of social standing, reputation, influence, dignity, and honor. It’s how the world around you sees you. You can “give face”, “gain face”, “lose face”, and “save face”. How you manage your face will have direct impact on your personal and business relationships.
Giving face is making someone look good. It is also treating someone with respect that is above their “perceived” social hierarchy, for example, housekeeper, lawn-mower, etc. The best way to accomplish this is by giving genuine compliments. Doing it in front of other people will make your efforts even more successful. Be careful, over doing this can make you look fake and suspicious. This is my favorite “face”.
Gaining face is done by your remarkable actions and behaviors. It is also having strong, harmonious relationships where you are spoken of in the highest regard. Worldly examples of this are getting a promotion, dressing nicely, and buying a nice car.
Losing face is any mistake or way that makes you look foolish to other people. A common way of losing face is losing your temper in public. Shouting, arguing, or causing a scene in public are severely frowned upon. My Grouchy Husband has a bad temper and this is the ugliest personality trait. When he gets mad in public, it not only makes him lose face but also me for being his wife.
Saving face is any and all ways to prevent losing face. As frustrating as it can be, always stay calm until a resolution is met, even if you need to make a small compromise.
How to Manage Face
- Avoid pointing out someone’s mistakes openly in public. Instead, find a time to tell them when you are with them alone.
- Give sincere compliments.
- Politely refuse a gift at first, but then accept with an abundance of gratitude.
- Show extra respect to elders.
- When offered, always allow your host to pay for your meal.
- Always leave your home looking clean and neat. Comb your hair, make sure your clothes are not wrinkled, put together outfits that fit your body and match style and coloring, have a clean face.
- Keep your parents updated on significant accomplishments, ex: high grade point averages, acceptance into high profile competitive colleges, high paying jobs, promotions, new car and home purchases. Allow them to proudly talk your accomplishments to their friends.
- Never lose your cool in public. Always find a calm way to resolve issues even if you have to make a small compromise.
Did I miss anything?
The Dumpling Mama xo