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Old November 9th, 2016, 03:53 AM   #1
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Is "saving face" really unique to Asian cultures?


The concept of "saving face" is usually referred to as an Asian thing, yet surely people in all countries want to maintain their reputation and try to avoid embarrassing themselves, which is basically what "saving face" is.

It's often said that people in countries like Japan and Thailand are so obsessive about "saving face" because if they make a fool of themselves it could have a long term impact on their life, but surely isn't that the case in Western countries too?

For instance, if a person in a Western country inadvertently makes a fool of themselves at work and comes across as incompetent, it could very easily have a long term impact on promotion opportunities and other colleague's respect for them. The vast majority of people in the West definitely want to avoid that sort of thing, so how is that any different from wanting to "save face"?
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Old November 9th, 2016, 04:38 AM   #2

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In comparisons of cultures, you need to compare trends and how much something is important relative to other cultures, because most human basic behaviour is going to be the same. Yeah, western countries present aspects of face, but it's not comparable in intensity with east asia. That being said, it's not only east asians who have a culture based on face, Ruth benedict (author of The crysanthemum and the sword, famous work on japanese culture) said that ancient greek culture was based on face too, according to the concept of the τιμή. She also thought catholic countries had a bigger shame and face culture than protestant ones.

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Old November 9th, 2016, 10:06 AM   #3
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In Iraq they wouldn't say "no" to you for most things, it's crazy and very frustrating because you can't trust them to do anything they say they will.
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Old November 10th, 2016, 03:23 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by aggienation View Post
In Iraq they wouldn't say "no" to you for most things, it's crazy and very frustrating because you can't trust them to do anything they say they will.
Sounds like a horrible culture, because I bet if you get irate and asked them face to face why they haven't done what they said they'd they go crazy and get really violent, like a pressure cooker.

Open cultures are far better where people know where they stand with each other and people are upfront and honest with each other.
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Old August 30th, 2017, 06:33 PM   #5
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the term along with kow tow is uniquely asian. however the act of saving faces is universal.
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Old October 1st, 2017, 10:30 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggienation View Post
In Iraq they wouldn't say "no" to you for most things
Same thing in Japan, from my own personal experience.
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Old October 1st, 2017, 10:40 AM   #7

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Same thing in Japan, from my own personal experience.
Very true. But it's generally pleasant, because only ignorant foreigners ask for things that need to be refused. Like the two Australians I saw harassing a poor shop worker for a discount. The guy was getting really embarassed and flustered because he didn't know how to refuse.
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Old October 1st, 2017, 10:50 AM   #8

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I travel ... and I really adore to understand different cultural environments.

Even the most different ones [like the Nepali one].

Probably the cultural environment where I saw the greatest will to "save the face" was the Hindu Nepali environment during the Monarchy [I ignore how it is now that the Hindu Monarchy is no more].

On the other hand ... Italians are proverbial to survive to bad figures! Actually we don't mind about saving our face. Well, being a Knight I mind a bit more than the common Italian ... but at the end ... I don't mind.
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Old October 1st, 2017, 03:41 PM   #9

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While “saving face” is important to everyone the concept of what might cause you to lose face, in Japan at least, is greater.

For example saying no directly to a customer might be seen as rude and there for cause loss of face to both parties.

If your boss makes a mistake in the West (at least in most countries) you could point out the mistake with no offensive. In japan this would be seen as humiliating for the boss therefore he will go uncorrected. If he comes up with a disaster out suicidal plan for the company it will not be challanged right there and then. They will find ways to scupper the plan with out rejecting the boss.

However globalisation is reducing this I reckon.

Last edited by Edric Streona; October 1st, 2017 at 04:22 PM.
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Old October 1st, 2017, 04:07 PM   #10

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Its not that Westeners don't try to save face, its that in Asian cultures you don't just save your own face but also of others. Basically in public, you never disagree with someone to their face. Also, if you don't like something that a person does than you never tell them directly unless they are very close, and even then you usually beat around the bush three times first.
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