In many cultures, such as Asian and Arabic, there is an important concept called keeping face. This means that in social situations, it is important for each person to maintain respect and dignity from those they are interacting with. Keeping face can be thought of as three things. It is first and foremost social, because you want others to respect you and think highly of you. Second, face is an impression that someone makes about you. It doesn’t matter what their real impressions are, as long as you are treated and treat people with respect. Finally,face only refers to favorable social attributes. Similar to the impression, regardless of what you actually think of someone, they are owed respect and dignity.
Keeping face is all about needs that we have. One of the needs is admiration. As human beings, we have a need to be acknowledged and have our accomplishments and talents admired. In this respect, it is important to acknowledge someone’s status, success, accomplishments,reputation and capabilities. This is why status is so important in many Asian cultures. The Japanese especially take care when examining business cards upon meeting to note status and also to show pride in their own status.
Another need for keeping face is control. Being able to stay in control of your emotions and reactions shows personal authority. It is important to recognize self-sufficiency and independence. It requires a certain level of maturity and composure too keep emotions intact. Conquering your emotions means that you have freedom from your own actions, and can control your emotions and keep face.
The final need for keeping face is approval. These cultures are very concerned with being accepted and being part of an in-group. Approval rides on the integrity of moral character. If someone’s moral character is tarnished, it is impossible for someone to function within that in-group. Obtaining approval relates back to the need to be treated with respect and dignity.
Be aware of the concept of “keeping face” in certain cultures. You could extremely hinder business deals by causing someone to lose face or publicly humiliate them. Keeping face relates back to needing admiration, control and approval, so try to work on these three aspects of face. Have you ever accidentally caused a business counter part to lose face in a culture where that is not acceptable?