Some Face Saving Examples 

Lesson 3: Topic 7 of 14

How does this play out? Following are a few case scenarios of losing face. 

  • Juan’s accent is mocked by a coworker.
  • Chun-hee’s fellow students make fun of her lunch brought from home.
  • Wei’s boss harshly criticizes him in front of his team.
  • Lily makes a mistake in a presentation and everyone laughs.

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Saving face is really the process of helping others when they could lose face. Juan’s accent has been mocked. He needs someone to step in and carefully defend him, encouraging him immediately for working so hard at his English. When Chun-hee’s fellow students laugh at the food she brought, someone could promptly be interested, asking about the cooking process or ingredients. After Wei’s boss harshly criticizes him, he is in need of someone who could intervene on his behalf, speaking privately to his boss to help him understand the seriousness of public humiliation. 

Lily made a presentation mistake and suffered loss of face from others’ laughter, and so she also needs someone to quickly and publicly praise the strengths of her presentation, turning attention away from her mistake. If she is still presenting, offer her a gracious road back into her work. “Please continue. We need to hear the rest of your research.” There are times a friend will step in to offer an excuse in order to save face. “I’m sure you were working so hard on that project, it took all of your concentration.”

Of the four examples above, the boss’s harsh criticism of Wei in front of others is probably the most difficult scenario. If a person in authority will not or cannot see the importance of saving face, the wounded person may perceive they have no choice but to find another job. Serious loss of face is difficult to overcome. This might seem ludicrous to others around him, but Wei’s loss of face has shamed him and changed his status within the group, at least in his mind. That is the reality he lives with. Even if everyone else has had similar embarrassing experiences with the boss, saying, “He’s just a jerk, and we all know that. He’s done that to just about everyone here.” will likely not restore Wei’s concept of face.