Saving Face in Brazil

Updated 2010-02-25 06:24

Saving face

generally refers to the act of avoiding embarrassment and disrespect to others. While most relate saving face to cultures in Asia, this phenomenon is also true in Brazil.

Brazilians are a very proud people. They love being Brazilian and are proud of where they come from. They are also a fun-loving people, warm, open and easy to socialize with. When amongst each other, or in groups of friends, Brazilians tease each other just like many other cultures do. The issue of saving face comes into play when Brazilians interact with those outside their close-knit group. Family and friends, for example, are part of their ingroup, while strangers and acquaintances are part of their outgroup.

In Brazil, teasing someone from your ingroup is acceptable, and, in fact, very common. On the other hand, teasing someone from your outgroup is frowned upon. If a Brazilian gets made fun of in public by someone he does not know well anger can set in. This is because the Brazilian is trying to save face. He does not want to be humiliated in front of strangers. He always wants to promote a positive image and retain his self-respect. Any challenge to either of these can result in loss of face and embarrassment.

While in Brazil, be careful not to tease or challenge acquaintances too harshly in front of others. It is a good rule to follow what your colleague is doing. Let him do the teasing first. This shows he is comfortable with it and will most likely be fine with a little teasing in return.

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