Monday, October 11, 2010

Saving face!

The concept of face is key when it comes to Asian manners.

Giving face consists of showing respect. Whereas you won't mention the amount of the bill while taking customers to the restaurant in Western countries, don't hesitate to do so in China to show to your guests that it is a very special occasion for you. Leaving some food untouched proceeds to the same; it shows that the host is providing enough food to the guests and that the guests are full.

Losing face is the big thing to avoid in Asia. It basically means loosing the respect from the group. For example criticizing someone in public would make this person lose face. After such an incident, don't expect anything from him/her! If you need to confront someone, do so in private or through a middleman. Similarly, avoid to say "no" directly; a better way would be to say "I'm not quite sure" or "I will think about it". Small details can have quite their importance! I will give you more examples through the following posts so that you can avoid fatal blunders.

Some Asians see Westerners as "thick faces": somehow arrogant and unshameful. But they don't realize that the concept of losing face applies to you as well. Unfortunately, it is not good for you to lose face in front of Asians either so when they tell you that something is not possible, reply that it is not an acceptable answer and that they are making you lose face in front of others.

[Feel free to use and share this material for non-commercial purpose. And don't hesitate to share your experience and questions in the comments or by email; I will come back to you as quickly as possible. Happy reading!]