Author Topic: Gaining and Losing Face in China  (Read 431 times)


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Gaining and Losing Face in China
« on: May 15, 2018, 05:15:16 PM »
Gaining and Losing Face in China

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Face and Business in China

Face is very visible in the Chinese business environment and plays an important role in inter- and intra-company communication, business negotiations, and the development and maintenance of relationships. In China, company hierarchy is much more important than in many Western countries. Not only are leaders and managers placed on a higher pedestal, but the distinction between different levels of management is much clearer and more important. Many Chinese leaders and managers expect respect from their subordinates and in many cases expect to be obeyed without question, no matter the rationality or fairness behind a request.  Not obeying “the will” of a Chinese leader or manager does not give them the perceived necessary prestige they (and others) feel is deserved. Indeed, survival in a Chinese company depends on knowing one’s place, and Face plays a very important role in facilitating that function.

why do the Chinese care about face?When Chinese business people build relationships with one another, Face is very important. On one hand, relationships in China are built and maintained through giving Face and increasing the prestige of one’s friends and contacts. With two business people of the same relative position or status, Face is often given and received equally and is the cement that holds a relationship together.

“To me, your “face” is your position and standing in the eyes of others, and it also has to do with the degree of respect you receive. Face can also be saved up over time and used to accomplish things later on. If you drove a fashionable or luxurious car to attend a friend’s party, then the majority of your friends would feel that you had face. Also, if you can achieve something through your personal contacts that others cannot through normal channels, you would also be thought to have face. You can gain face if you are praised by your boss, or if you accomplish a difficult task at work. However, if you greet others warmly at social events, but are met only with indifference, then you would lose face. Questioning someone’s  ideas or opinion in a public setting would cause that person to lose face.”

– James Tan, Sales Manager, Shanghai

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