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The Concept of Face Negotiation Theory in Terms of Cultural Cinflicts

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Table of contents

  1. Development of the Theory
  2. Styles
  3. Conclusion

The happening of the 9/ 11 attack, firefighter Piciatto shares, ” And then the noise started, and the building began to tremble, and we all froze”. Piciatto (2004), also goes on describing the attack, dead solid still. To a man, no one moved, except to lift his eyes to the ceiling, to see where the racket was coming from. The firefighter describes as if they could look clear into the ceiling tiles for an uncomplicated reason for the attack on the twin towers. It was dead silent no words were spoken. The hero recounts this tragedy and shares there was little to no time to develop feelings into words, although there was time to reflect what had happened. Today Muslims residing in America experience issues and are portrayed to some as terrorists after the 9/11 attack. The attack on the Twin Towers is one of many examples that can connect with FGT. Face negotiation theory describes the way individuals of various ethnicities control disagreements. One’s face points to the flattering self-worth encountered throughout communicative positions. This face is considered an emotional expansion of how one views themselves. It consists of everyone from various ethnicities who possess a sense of face, referring to a universal concept. The sense of face can differentiate in cultures around the world. When interacting with others, one is continuously making aware and unaware decisions regarding face-saving and honoring problems connecting with rational, workplace, and worldwide issues. While there were different theories to choose from in the textbook, the face negotiation theory I believe is interesting when observing the conflicts and approaches from different cultures.

Development of the Theory

To illustrate, the chosen theory was created by Stella Ting-Toomey and describes the culture-based and situational objectives that mold communicators, movement in moving toward and controlling conflicts. It is believed by Ting Toomey and colleagues that there are three sorts of face. The first is self-face, the worry of how one may viewed to others. The second type is called other face, the unease of another’s image. Lastly is mutual face, it has worries for both parties painted pictures or concern with the connection all together. Face is commonly referred as how a person desires other to see them. It also refers to how one desires to be treated and how individuals treat others in engaging with there social self-conception assumptions. To add, there are several core beliefs connected with the centered theory. The first core belief created by Ting Toomey is people from ethnicities around the world attempt to preserve and work out face communication in all disagreements. The second core belief is face being mostly difficult within emotionally frightening or helpless concerns when the set identities of the communicators are then questioned. Next is the cultural worth extent of individualism-collectivism and the sizes of power distance, molding facework worries and types. The fourth focuses on individualism and collectivism usefulness models mold members likings for self-oriented face disturbances against other -oriented situations. Fifth, small to big power distance trends that are useful, shape everyone’s liking for horizontal focused facework compared to vertical based facework. Sixth, in specific scenes consisting of culture there are value elements in coincidence with a persons, comparative, and situational objectives affecting the utilization of specific face-work actions in certain scenes connected with culture. Lastly, intercultural facework skills touches on the optimal assimilation of information, carefulness, and correspondence techniques in controlling powerless identification based clashing situations suitability. According to Zang, Ting-Toomey, & Oetzel (2014), “conflict is essentially a face-negotiation process, but cultural value orientations and individual attributes shape one’s self/other-oriented facework and conflict behavior”.


Not to mention, the unrevealed impression of the Face Negotiation theory is that face is a descriptive mechanism in the various styles of conflict. To begin with, emotional conflict is predicted to happen within heterogeneous groups because of explained obstacles diminishing from those insides of the group with a diverse set of values, opinions, and language systems gained from different socialization encounters. When managing conflict some encourage that speaking is an essential way in fixing relationships. While others desire to highlight communicating, is likely to be successful when clashing groups can and will speak. Disagreements connected with emotions especially negative emotions such has frustration and anger can result in dysfunctional team performance. Face is a person’s declared feeling of approving image in the situation of social and comparative networks, and facework makes reference to the actions that individuals use to present self-face and to support or dispute other face. Conflict is believed to be a face negotiation process by which people experience feel face threat or loss, frame positioned faces or identities and perform facework. It is important to note the key principles of the face negotiation theory involving those from collectivistic cultures or others who consider themselves interdependent with self-definition, prefer to be mutual-face oriented abstaining, accommodating, and consolidating. Also, people from cultures such as individualistic or one who is independent in self-definition refer to leaning toward being more self-faced positioned and challenging. At the same time, self-construal also has a connection with the face negotiation theory. This category is a person’s self-awareness of his or her image traits of themselves, that can either considered independent or interdependent. Independent self- definition highlights originality, uniqueness, distinctiveness, and inner characteristics, whereas self-definition underlines relationships, relatedness, and social situations. This style has also obtained interest with intercultural connection study for its capability to connect to both values and behavior of an individual. There is also emotion and feelings connected with the face negotiation theory. Conflict is believed to be emotionally influenced and triggered. Clashing with another individual can be viewed as emotionally initiated and can be conducted in a positive manor. The doubtfulness is suitable partially because of the reason that talking is not a circumstance of talking or starting linguistic remarks – speaking thoughts clearly, referring to “team talk” mentions in other data.

There is also a competing style containing an increase in self-concern and a decrease in a different concern. Zang, Ting-Toomey, & Oetzel (2014) state, “this style is assertive, but uncooperative, which prioritizes one’s own interests and goals, representing an “I win, you lose” perspective” (p. 375). Career field Furthermore, Communication inside of the medical field is crucial. The progress in communicating inside of both the medical and human service settings are recognized today. Inside of the health care field, doctors are required to continuously communicate with a diverse set of individuals. A common goal in medicine is to give successful health care to conserve, progress, and save individuals. According to Kirschbaum (2012), “face-negotiation theory measures and explains how various elements contribute to conflict management style”. This type of style is evaluated by observing how one replies to situations that contemplates conflict among people. To add, there are two objectives that are frequently evaluated in face-negotiation data, categorized as face concerns and self-concept. Prior to the theory, there are concerns such as inspecting identity conception problems that happen when connected with conflict episodes.

Conflict is an essential element to the Face Negotiation theory. Studies frequently utilize three different categories that are branched from the conflict styles categorized as dominating, integrating, and avoiding. It is important to note that none of these three terms reflects good or bad conflict-management styles; rather, they are appropriate or not, depending on the situation. A section of medicine has taken control in guiding communication education and training focusing on those providing services in the operating room. This is comprehended because miscommunication that happens within the operating room, doctors can have an outcome of conflict or putting patients at risk. Distinctive dependent differences present with both pilots and doctor’s self-description. Not to mention, there are various communication variables inside of culture. Inside of the operating room there are different cultural behaviors such has strong motivation and independence with a result of idealism, invulnerability and the avoidance of tiredness and stress. A pertaining example is, when comparing doctors to pilots, the doctors would preferably not be asked questions from those who are beneath them. They also believe that they perform procedures even when having fatigue.

The results suggest that recognition of strength among physicians follow ranking, self-rule, and indestructible. The cultural behaviors shared are maintained inside of long-established medical education. The observation of cultural elements focuses on the miscommunication inside of the operating room, doctors are standard to fix the medical situations. FGT evaluates and discusses the different factors adding to conflict management style. This style is evaluated by observing how people react to situations that display conflict between individuals. Also, the two most frequently evaluated objectives are face negotiation data with both face concern and self-construal. The first objective, self-construal brings an expansion of various cultural dimensions to the sole level of analysis. The second objective, face concern is studied by observing identity consideration problems that happen in linking with clashing episodes.

Conflict style is an essential element within the face negotiation theory. Researchers frequently use three types of categories including controlling, combining, and avoiding. The first category is described as a communication approach that is viewed as unconventional, ambitious, and antagonistic. The next category is mentioned as a communication method that is cooperative encouraging of others and aiming to fix concerns. The last communication approach is aiming to avoid mentioning the problem, revamp the subject, or also alter the focus of the problem. It is important to realized and highlight that none of the shared categories are reviewed as positive or negative conflict management approaches but instead they are perceived as proper or not relying on the situation. Communication studies have observed clashing in a variety of conditions, but the majority of medical data does not particularly say that conflict is alive but exclude how the clashing begins or what objectives give to arguments inside of the operating room. Various observations of procedure room engagement share different type of conflict resolution. Even though not lectured instantly, debating of an argument solution inside of studies encourage that situations happen at the time of engagement within the operating room. Inside of the hospital room there is a firm belief of dispute. When studied and noted by Cole and Crichton there was an outcome of conflict involving subjects such as leadership difficulties and interprofessional clashing. The situations involving interprofessional started from differences involving procedure of clinical interventions. With numerous doctors being accountable for giving patient care, there are is a high chance of difference of which strategies are most crucial.

Cole and Crichton share an example, “one interviewee noted conflict arises when “the patient needs a CT scan they the anesthetists want to put lines in”. Arguments involving priority settings is one factor of conflict inside of the operation room. In addition, disagreement over priority position relates to and possibly aggravated by the second kind of conflict recognized as leadership difficulties. It is believed that a crucial view of the group performance is connected with the identification that the groups accomplishments takes ranking over one’s success. This can be touching for an older member of the group who frequently works with self-rule. Doctors are taught to think independently, but inside of the room with other staff members requires engagement and different communication patterns. Wanting to dishonor the reputation of a member in the group is typical of self-face defense and allows for more proof of the appropriateness of the face negotiation theory inside of health communication date involving operating room surgeons. The results from this study conducted by Cole and Chrichton (2006), display clashing happening inside of hospital rooms with physicians start from cultural influences of self-rule.


While there were different theories to choose from in the textbook, the face negotiation theory I believe is interesting when observing the conflicts and approaches from different cultures.

Ting Toomey share cultures from all over the world discussing the idea of facework. The idea of face is mostly difficult in situations that include questioning the ethnicity of groups that leave one either embarrassed or the creation of conflict. Within this theory contains face-negotiations involving various goal alignments, demonstrated in facework. Those who are considered negotiators demonstrate the requirement of separation of negative positive face in challenging situations. According to Ting-Toomey, & Kurogi (1998), “in relating facework with conflict styles while individualists tend to use more direct, face threatening conflict styles (e. g dominating style), collectivists (e. g. Taiwan and China respondents) tend to use more indirect, mutual face-saving conflict style (e. g. avoiding and obligating styles – connoting either high mutual-face or other- face concern)”. Male genders within the United States and Japan have a tendency of using controlling methods compared to the female gender. Koreans react by using an indirect conversational type and seek indirect explanations than those who reside in the United States. As can be seen it is important to increase intercultural understanding to decrease conflict amongst different cultural groups in society.

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