In mainland China, people often use “lian”, in Taiwan the people usually use “mianzi” ,but actually they refer the same thing. “Lian” can be properly translate into “face” in English. In here I directly use English word “face” to discuss the special characteristics of Chinese culture. As many sinologists noticed, although a universal human nature and a ubiquitous concept that occurs in all culture, face is particularly salient for Chinese culture. Even some scholars believe that the concept of face is in fact Chinese in origin. In Short Oxford Dictionary on Historical Princeples , “to lose face” is rendered directly from the Chinese phrase “diu lian”: English explanation is “ to lose one’s credit, good name or reputation”.

“Face” is evident in all aspects of Chinese life. The Chinese often avoid the word “No” to save face for both parties. Words such as “bu fangbian” (inconvenient) , “tai kunnan” (too difficult) or “huoxu” (maybe) are aften synonyms of “No” in Chinese culture. The Chinese “Yes” (shi) can also be elusive – a word that has little meaning because it is used t repond to almost everything, such as “Yes, but it is inconvenient” – it actually means “No”.

Face is also evident in a Chinese business negotiation context. Many observers find that the Chinese prefer to do business with large companies with world reputations to gain face. Even in business negotiations, you can use the face to explain the Chinese negotiation style – for example, meeting in a group, proceeding cautiously and slowly – from the face perspective. Therefore, it would be difficult for Chinese negotiator to make concessions because of his face consciousness. To deal with Chinese face in negotiation, I advice that you must give face to the Chinese and avoid actions that cause them to lose face. I will further discuss the matter in the last part of this lecture when I talk about Chinese negotiation tactics.

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