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The Importance of "Face" in Chinese Culture

Photo Credit: Yongxinge via Wikipedia

“Face” or reputation in this context is 面子 (Miànzi). Face refers to a sociological concept in general linked to the dignity and prestige that a person has in terms of their social relationships. Taken from Wikipedia.

China-Mike.com has an excellent blog post on this topic here.

This page has two sections, here are jump links:

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FREE DOWNLOAD

Video About Face

CT Johnson– Top 10 List

Phương Công – Vietnamese but applies to Asia

Jondayah Martin – East v. West in under 2 min.

Jondayah Martin TN

Expats in Asia – Part 1 is mostly fluff, here is part 2

ClarkMorgan Insights – Old but on point video

Clark Morgan Insights TN

Lena Elsborg – Skip ahead 1 min.

Everyday Chinese – Story About Respect

Vocabulary

AUDIO

HANZI

PINYIN

ENGLISH

DEFINITION

有面子

yǒu miànzi

Have Face

Have honor, reputation, self-respect, and pride.

沒面子

méi miànzi

Have No Face

“A loss of honor, reputation or self-respect. 

In other words, your pride has been destroyed on some level or you have brought the judgment of others upon yourself or other close to you, especially your family.

You are ashamed of yourself or something you did.

丟臉

diūliǎn

Lose Face

To experience humiliation in any form. 

“Losing Face” comes before “Having No Face.” 

要面子

yàomiànzi

Want Face

When a person wants “too much Face.”

Those who have this attitude will go to great lengths to cover their weaknesses and show off their strengths. 

They often pay more than the usual attention to their conduct to ensure that they do not incur shame in any form upon themselves, their family or close associates.

不要臉

bùyào liǎn

Don't Want Face

When a person has no sense of shame. 

This statement is usually in the context of a negative judgment by others.

留面子

liú miànzi

Save Face

This refers to acting in a way that brings honor, a good reputation, and self-respect to yourself and those around you.

Chinese people often go out of their way not to embarrass people they interact with, thus “saving their face.” 

This includes not spreading “face losing” rumors, or calling out the mistakes of others, especially in public.

給面子 / 賞面

gěimiànzi/shǎng miàn

Give Face

To show deference (humble submission and respect) or publicly praise. 

Often Chinese people will do things they do not necessarily want to do if it saves the face of another person, especially their family members and close associates. 

Giving face includes not calling out the mistakes of others at any time, especially in a business or academic setting.

One of the videos, in this lesson states that if you do not give face in a business-related argument “you may win the battle, but loose the war.”  This is much different than the west, where many want to win at all costs without regard for the dignity of others. – Clark Morgan Insights

翻臉

fānliǎn

Flip Face

This refers to having a serious difference or argument with another person that results in a falling out.

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