Face is a metaphor for self-image and social reputation that is commonly used to describe communication and behavior. In social situations, people manage face by promoting and defending a positive image of themselves. In many cases, an individual also seeks to defend or attack the face of others. This occurs in a broad range of social situations and is common to all cultures. The following are the basic types of face.
AutonomyAcknowledgement of your independence, privacy, boundaries, freedom, self-sufficiency and control over your life. For example, a software developer who feels that it is demeaning when their boss is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they are working hard.
InclusionSocial inclusion including group membership and relationships such in areas such as family, romance, friendship and comradeship. In communication, it preserves face to show that an individual is well liked and is fully a member of social groups. Any suggestion that an individual is a social outcast can be a serious loss of face.
StatusSocial status is the admiration an individual enjoys from other members of a society or culture. This is based on factors such as youth, looks, authority, wealth, accomplishments, intelligence, altruism and coolness. In communication, a suggestion that someone has a socially desirable trait builds up their face.
ReliabilityTraits such as loyalty, dependability, trustworthiness and consistency are important to face. For example, accusing someone of a lie results in a loss of face for the person.
CompetenceKnowledge and abilities, especially those that are expected of a person. For example, suggesting that a designer isn't aware of a basic design concept can cause a loss of face.
MoralsAcknowledgement of your morals, honor, honesty and integrity. For example, suggesting that a scientist faked data may represent a serious loss of face.
NotesThe list above are known as "face content domains" in face negotiation theory.When people lose face they are likely to defend themselves rigorously. It is common for others to help them as a loss of face creates a disruption to social harmony. Loss of face is a common event that happens to everyone from time to time. It is an element of personal resilience to manage your face and deal with a loss of face without any loss of enthusiasm.
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ReferencesTing-Toomey, Stella. "The matrix of face: An updated face-negotiation theory." Theorizing about intercultural communication (2005): 71-92.
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