Face (Mianzi)-One’s social image and prestige
Everything you do is about ‘face’ here in Taiwan! How you give and save it for yourself and for others is extremely important, both professionally and socially.
The Taiwanese concept of ‘face’ is similar to the Western sense of ‘being embarrassed’ or one’s ‘reputation’ but it’s much more serious than that for any Taiwanese. Face goes far beyond the self to embrace the entire family, ancestors, and everybody that is part of their ’group’. If anybody does something bad, they haven’t just harmed their own reputation, but have also brought shame upon many people (to all those in the ‘group’).
The term mianzi (面子), literally means ‘face’, but it refers to the whole of a Taiwanese person’s identity. Mianzi is the perception of prestige, one’s projected social image, social self-respect and social self-esteem. It influences how people see each other, and how they relate to (and are expected to speak to) others.
A person’s self-concept is connected closely with one’s ‘face’. Taiwanese who are in prestigious positions are often perceived to have ‘face’, and consequently their respect, pride and self-worth are enhanced greatly.
Losing face is when one’s reputation is reduced or destroyed in public; it brings shame upon the individual, and thus everyone tries to avoid losing face at all costs. Face can only be lost in public; it is external only if someone finds out about it. Once face is lost, it is hard to regain or to recover. It’s not only a loss of trust, influence, and power, but it also affects one’s connections in the social network and one’s ability to function effectively in business.