In China, people often use “Lian” or “Mianzi” which refers to the same thing. The word “Lian” could be translated in to English as “face”. Here, we use “face” directly to talk about the special characteristic of Chinese culture “Mianzi”.
Face-A Culture Thing
Mianzi is an ancient conception in Chinese vocabulary. When people know someone without his or her position or knowledge, he can observe whether other people showing respect to that person or whether that person receives mianzi, to judge the person’s quality. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s an evident phenomenon of personal and business relationships in China. It is received special attention in oriental societies with strong sense of hierarchy. “Face” does have specific definitions in China culture. It is very similar to the notion of reputation. Actually, it can be regarded as unspoken rule running the Chinese society. Giving mianzi equals to respect someone, while not giving mianzi means disrespect to someone. If you are not well-versed in Chinese culture, you should know something about face or having face.
If you do not “give face” to others, they will think that you do not respect them. In the dictionary, you can find the mean of “to lose face”, which translates from Chinese words “diu lian”, is “to lose one’s credit, good name or reputation” in English.
It is easy to find “face” in all aspect of Chinese life. Chinese people often do not like to say the world “No”, because they want to “save face” for both parties, so they may say “it is inconvenient for me right now”, “It is too difficult” or “maybe”, but not just say “No” to others. And the word “Yes” of Chinese people is also difficult to understand for foreign friends, cause their response always like “Yes, but it is incontinent”, which actually means “No”!
Chinese idioms about “Face”
“Ren yao lian, shu yao pi.” (Men cannot live without face just like trees could not live without bark.)
“Jia chou bu ke wai yang” (A family’s ugliness should never been publicly aired.)
Western face is more focus on self-oriented and individualistic. It is more focus on independent and self-reliant being for an individual. And western children always are taught and expected to grow up with strong sense of personal integrity and individuality.
For the Chinese face, which has been with the more than 4000 years’ Chinese culture, it emphasizes more on the family and group. As it focuses on the collective, the self-orient seems blurred or does not exist. What is more, individualism was a kind of immoral for Chinese.
Tips for Giving Face:
Praising someone in public, especially in front of elders of them, or boss.
Giving high grades on the evaluation forms for customers.
Compliments should be sincere.
Gift should be important one or expensive one.
Criticizing, challenging, disagreeing with someone in public
Not showing respect to elders or boss
Interrupting a conversation
Revealing publicly that someone lack of ability or knowledge, or other shortness