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You are reading about: Face (sociological concept)

While many foreigners enjoy the Chinese hospitality at banquets, I get the feeling that most of them are trying to survive the meal rather than impress at them. Banquets are a social obligation, and we’ve learned from guidebooks that we shouldn’t stick our chopsticks upright in the rice bowl, and it might not hurt to toast once or twice with baijiu, but do you ever really feel completely comfortable at the big round table? Hopefully these tips will help: Seating This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has walked into a private room and heard “please sit down.” It is almost never clear exactly where one should sit, especially when there is more than one guest. In a private room the most important person is […]


Two concepts that foreigners are always told about are “Face” and “Guanxi”. “Face” is usually explained as not embarrassing people. It seems that every business book about China makes a point of explaining that you cannot point out workers mistakes, because it will cause them to “lose face,” which would be a great embarrassment. “Losing face” can be getting angry in public, making a mistake, or just not knowing an answer. This is a good start for understanding face but really the concept runs so much deeper than that, and causes problems for expats who have lived in China for years. From my experience it’s not actually making a mistake that causes the loss of face, it’s someone discovering that you made a mistake. So […]


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