Face Negotiation Theory: Retraced


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  • Face-negotiation theory is often used in situations involving business conflicts. Lawson (2011) emphasizes on how various cultures resolve conflicts in a bid to ‘save face’. individualist culture values autonomy, likes privacy, and personal space. They would place saving their own face above anything else. , face negotiation theory encapsulates the importance of verbal and non-verbal cues in coming to an agreement in a business context.
  • In the business context, face negotiation theory is separated into two categories namely low and high context cultureslow context culture prefers straightforwardness, being assertive, and handling situations with honesty. high context cultures pay attention to every actions and decisions as they believe that it will affect the group as a whole
  • Another notable difference between a collectivist and individualist culture lies in the way they negotiate. Americans see negotiation as a competition that determines winners and losers.On the other hand, the Japanese sees negotiation as a process that will eventually lead to a consensus for both parties. Americans have the habit of using ‘door in the face’ technique that will be deemed as unacceptable by the Japanese. Hence, this would diminish their trust in the Americans.
  • In our research, we are using a case study to further understand how theory is applied in the business context. The two major parties that we are looking at are the United States and Japan. United States believes in disclosing informationas it results to them having control over the situation. On the contrary, Japan, a collectivist country, has the practice of hiding information from their business partners. They believe that by doing so, they have power over the other party
  • the Japanese places collective needs and goals in high regard and would often prioritise collective needs over individual needs. In addition, when faced with the circumstance of having to issue a rejection, the Japanese would rather not reply in the hope of saving one’s face. In contrast, Americans do not believe in face-saving and would choose to be straight forward in delivering the news of rejection.
  • Face Negotiation Theory: Retraced

    1. 1. Face Negotiation TheoryPresenters: Dinesh Atiqah Liyana Carol Espall University at Buffalo: Communications Theory Module
    2. 2. Face Negotiation Theory Explains that the root of conflict amid intercultural communication is based on identity management on an individual and cultural level. Stella Ting-Toomey
    3. 3. Definition face“The public self-image, that each member in society claims for themselves” based on cultural norms and values.
    4. 4. Facework “Specific verbal and nonverbal messages that help to maintain and restore faceloss, and to uphold and honour face gain.”
    5. 5. Importance • Understand dynamics of cross-cultural communication • Mediate potential difficulties
    6. 6. Purpose of paper1. Study the developmentof the Face Negotiationtheory2. Relation to notions such as – facework, – individualistic-collectivist culture, – and conflict management
    7. 7. Conception of theory• Politeness theory: Brown and Levinson (1978)• Author’s dissatisfaction with mainstream communication literature• Western ideas prevalent while Asian ignored• Incorporate a stronger Asian cultural lens
    8. 8. Development• Revisions from years 1985 to 2005• Effectively intersected face, culture, and conflict – Clearer scope and boundaries set• Theory is made heuristic
    9. 9. Assumptions1. People try to maintain and negotiate face in all communication situations2. Especially so in emotionally threatening or identity-vulnerable situations
    10. 10. Assumptions3. Individualism and collectivism value patterns – Self-oriented face concern/other-oriented face concern4. Small and large power distance value patterns – Horizontal-based face-work – Vertical-based face-work
    11. 11. Assumptions5. These value patterns are further influenced by individual, relational, topical, and situational factors6. Intercultural face-work competence – Optimal integration of culture-sensitive knowledge mindfulness – Flexible communication skills in managing conflict
    12. 12. Other theories1. Facework and mediation (Ng, 2011) – Based on the “Four faces of face” framework, first introduced by Ting-Toomey – Studies the impact of face in mediation
    13. 13. Other theories2. Communication as low- context or high-context (Gudykunst, 1996) – Members of the group camouflage their true feelings when communicating – To preserve harmony of the group and to save face
    14. 14. Other theories 3. Politeness in Chinese face-to-face interaction (Pan, 2000) – Conducted research to find out why Chinese seem to be inconsistent in their politeness behaviour – Different settings require different “faces”
    15. 15. Business application• Often used in situations involving business conflicts• Individualist culture values autonomy• Importance of verbal and non-verbal cues
    16. 16. Business application• Face negotiation theory is separated by low and high context cultures• Low context culture: straightforwardness• High context cultures: pay attention to details
    17. 17. Case Study: United States & Japan • Americans see negotiation as a competition • Japanese sees negotiation as a process that will lead to a consensus
    18. 18. Case Study: United States & Japan• United States believes in disclosing information• Japan has the practice of withholding information
    19. 19. Case Study: United States & Japan• Americans use “ door in the face” technique• Japanese places collective needs and goals in high regard
    20. 20. Case Study: United States & JapanWhen faced with having to issue a rejection:• Japanese values “face-saving”• Americans prefer to be straight forward
    21. 21. Conclusion• Theory will continue to intrigue communication researchers• Especially since culture pervades all aspects of life• Theory has lasting appeal