We’ve all heard about the Asian concept of “saving face” or “losing face”. But I wonder sometimes if it shouldn’t be referred to as a “pseudo-Asian concept”.
For my full exploration of the topic: “Reflections on Face and What It Really Means for Life and Business in Korea”.
But if you just want to cut to the chase, here are some suggestions for getting what you want in business in Korea.
Tips for Helping Koreans “Save Face” (or Whatever It’s Called…) in Business
- Showing unpleasant emotions in business in Korea can be unexpectedly counterproductive. Koreans may seem to maintain their cool in awkward situations, but this should not be mistaken for compliance or agreement.
- Use non-overtly aggressive techniques for handling conflict in Korea:
- Be aggressive with a smile rather than a frown
- Use extra words to avoid coming out and saying unpleasant things directly
- Yield on small points
- Use passive aggressive behaviors judiciously
- It’s not necessary to overlook wrong in business situations, but solutions that don’t require people to admit errors overtly can help keep important relationships going.
Additional Resources on KBC and Elsewhere about Being More Culturally Effective with Koreans in Business
** Comments are always welcome. If you have additional insights or come across information here that you disagree with or that needs to be updated — or just want to know something — don’t hesitate to leave a comment and share your opinion/knowledge/question!