Face Negotiation Theory is an intercultural theory that strives to explain behavior. Face can literally be defined as a metaphor for the public image people




НазваниеFace Negotiation Theory is an intercultural theory that strives to explain behavior. Face can literally be defined as a metaphor for the public image people
Дата конвертации17.02.2013
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Joseph Hursey

Face Negotiation Theory

November 30th, 2010


Face Negotiation Theory is an intercultural theory that strives to explain behavior. Face can literally be defined as a metaphor for the public image people display to other individuals. It originates with the Chinese, and has two conceptualizations of face, lien and mien-tzu, also known as Identity and Ego. The theory was revived into its current state by Ting-Toomey.

There are 3 primary assumptions of face negotiation theory (433, West). The first theory is “Self-Identity is important in interpersonal interactions, with individuals negotiating their identities differently across cultures.” The second assumption is “The management of conflict is mediated by face and culture.” The final assumption states, “Certain acts threaten one’s projected self-image (face).”

The first assumption pretty much states that each individual has a face, positive or negative. The face can change depending on the individual you’re talking to. You also want to adjust your face appropriately depending on the situation. It also states that face can be maintained, lost, or strengthened.

An example of maintaining face would be interacting in a situation with a professor. The student will want to maintain a responsible and hardworking behavior if they want to be taken seriously by their teacher. The teacher will also maintain their face by acting professional or how they’re expected to act. Both parties are maintaining their face so they can maintain an effective conversation without encountering any awkwardness.

An example of losing your face would be a situation where you’ve done wrong. Using the professor and student again, when a student turns an assignment in late, they lose face. The professor will see the student as less responsible or hardworking in my cases. Of case exceptions can exist, but face will adjust based on the situation. The professor can lose their face by not preparing materials effectively for class, or losing student’s assignments. The students will view the teacher as less professional because she can’t even maintain her own items, how can she be expected to teach a class effectively?

Last example using the professor and student, gaining face can be done by being overly responsible. A student doing papers before they are do or coming to the instructor with multiple questions and a valid interest in the situation at hand will increase his face. A professor that has multiple materials available for the student that saves them work or organizes the class more effectively than it needs to be done will increase face.

Face also contains other important aspects to it such as facework. Facework are actions used to deal with face needs/wants of self and others. (Turner, 452). When someone’s face is threatened, they attempt to restore the face of themselves or their partner. This is literally defined as facework. Facework is split into 3 sections, tact facework, solidarity facework, and approbation facework.

Tact facework attempts to respect another individuals autonomy. Autonomy is an individual’s independence. This method allows an individual to act out their mind instead of demoralizing them to the point where they are not respectful or honest. The best way to employ tact facework is through listening to criticism, while asking for suggestions and avoiding discipline.

Soliditary facework works to accept other members based on their group. This style of facework attempts to combine the similarities of the two speakers and make them more similar. An example of employing solidarity facework would be through bringing yourself down or up to another individuals level. For example, a professor would attempt to show the student that they too have a life and responsibilities.

Approbation facework attempts to focus more on the positive aspects of an individual instead of the negative ones. This is important because individuals feel more accepted when you talk about their positive attitudes over their negative ones. No one enjoys being talked bad about. Instead of blaming an individual you should recognize what they’ve done right, and it will prevent awkwardness in the conversation.

Generally face is more important in cultures that have a more collectivistic view. An individualistic society focuses mainly on only them. A collectivistic society prefers to focus more on the community or group, and usually strives for the overall good of the group. Both dimensions of cultures play a distinct role in the way people maintain their face and conflict. Every culture should make an attempt to employ face management, which is a protection of their face.

In conclusion, face is an important aspect of life. Although mainly important in collectivistic cultures, it applies to everyone. Humans naturally strive to avoid conflict, and like to view their own image as positive instead of negative. Obliging, or satisfying what other individuals need, is a very important aspect in face, and if you don’t put this to use, you’ll generally be more disliked. Face is a very commonly referenced theory that can be used to summarize how individuals in every culture behave.


Works Cited

 West, Richard L., and Lynn H. Turner. Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

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