You probably heard Chinese saying “给我个面子（gěi wǒ ge miàn zi）” a lot, but do you really know what does“面子”mean in Chinese? People aren’t familiar with Chinese culture sometimes translate “面子”into face or noddles directly, that’s not gonna make it easier to understand……
Let’s see two examples from different culture.
- To make a important decision for company, a crew has been in a meeting for two hours. The boss thinks they have thought everything they could and it’s time to put an end to this meeting, so he asks:“Is there any problem with our decision ?”Nobody talks and the boss end the meeting.Everything looks just fine.
- Same situation in Example1, but after the meeting, one of the employees come to the boss and says:“Actually I still have some suggestions, but I want to talk to you privately because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling.”(其(qí)实(shí)我(wǒ)还(hái)有(yǒu)些(xiē)建(jiàn)议(yì)，但(dàn)是(shì)为(wèi)了(le)不(bù)伤(shānɡ)及(jí)您(nín)和(hé)同(tónɡ)事(shì)的(de)面(miàn)子(zǐ)，我(wǒ)想(xiǎnɡ)和(hé)您(nín)私(sī)下(xià)聊(liáo)聊(liáo))
Obviously E1 is from a western country, like America. E2 is more common in a Oriental country, like China. I’m not trying to prove only China has the concept of “面子”, I want you to know that a lot of culture have the concept of “面子”,nonetheless different culture have different ways to express it. You see, this is the reason it’s hard for some people to understand “面子”in China.
People cherish their own “面子” in China，most of the culture do, however in China there is a unique strategy to maintain “面子”– Chinese put great value on other people’s “面子”. People in China tend to avoid direct conflict with other people and don’t express different ideas or criticism.
Now I believe you understand why that employee in E2 would rather find the boss after the meeting, he does not want to hurt other people’s “面子”.