A deeply rooted concept in Chinese culture, face or ‘Miàn Zi’ (面子) in China roughly translates to a combination of ‘honour’, ‘reputation’, and ‘respect’.

Unlike Westerners who tend to be more direct and blunt though, Chinese believe in ‘giving face' – an act of giving deference to someone else – as a show of respect.
Equally important is to make sure you don’t accidentally cause your Chinese buyers to 'lose face'. Here's a quick breakdown below to help ease your way in:
  • Having face (有面子) [ YÇ’u Miàn Zi ]
    To have gained pride or prestige through some kind of achievement
  • Not having face (没面子) [ Méi Miàn Zi ]
    To look bad or warrant embarrassment, caused by an act (sometimes by others)
  • Giving face (给面子) [ GÄ›i Miàn Zi ]
    To praise or give deference to someone else to improve/uphold their reputation
  • [Liking to] Save face (爱面子) [ Ài Miàn Zi ]
    A term describing someone who places high emphasis on preserving their own appearance of respect and dignity at all costs (**Use this with caution though, as it can have a slightly negative connotation with Chinese from regions outside of China.)
  • Losing face (丢脸) [ DiÅ« LiÇŽn ]
    To be humiliated or to suffer the loss of social standing
  • No face (不要脸) [ Bù Yào LiÇŽn ]
    An insulting term to imply someone who is acting shamelessly without any scruples or principles
Want to know more about the Chinese face culture? Find out more here, including how it impacts you when doing business in China.