Fear To Lose Face: How It Influences Everything

Hello fellow experts.

Why do Vietnamese fear shame so much and the desire to save face (avoid shame) influences many of their decisions and choices? Is there any history or a story that explains this cultural practice that seems to affect so many people's choices and decisions in VN?

I observe that even in love stories, folklore, movies, and in many other types of relationships, most people prefer to hurt themselves in many ways just to save their face or their family's face (avoid shame).

I want to learn and understand the VN culture to help me relate to the people better and appreciate the culture even better. Therefore understanding a certain recurring or common behavior such as the strong desire to save face is important to me.

I don't know if this is as strong in Vietnam as it is in Thailand.

I've seen some situations here in Vietnam where one person yelled at the other without losing face.

Also the phenomenon that you won't find anyone here who answer you "I don't know" has nothing to do with "losing face", in my opinion.
I think you just don't want to show that they are ignorant.

At that time in Thailand my girlfriend never asked anyone for information (e.g. at the airport or in the supermarket someone asked "where can I find...").  We always lost a lot of time looking for something because she didn't want ask someone.

Also that nobody says "no" has more to do with the fact that according to the Asians it is inpolite to say "no" for whatever reason.

I noticed that the appearance is extremely important for the Vietnamese. Nobody should think that they are poor, uneducated or ugly.

On the other hand, they don't give a *** what the others think if they endanger someone (in traffic) or harass someone (noise, waste disposal, waste incineration).

Asian pride? :D

Complicated.  Cannot be easily put into words.  Here's the best I can do.

Power, money and reputation are important.  In the West, money is king.  Power and reputation are tools to reach that goal.  In the East, reputation is the emperor with subordinates power and money.

The West.  If it ever really existed, honor and the chilvalrous code started dying in wars of conquest.  The remaining kings and nobles thought themselves above the common folk.  Revolutions.  Then came America.  Built by people who abandoned their homeland for a better life.  Bold.  Daring.  Even less a sense of community.

Asia has traditionally revolved around the community.  Without a structure, a leader, the entire community collapses.  Face was an aspect that helps people recognize the leader and keep the peace among peers.  In present time, a lot of people in asia care about face but they've lost sight of the fact that face is earned, not demanded.

The first thought I had was a greater connection to (awareness of) ancestors.

It isn't just about the metrics we would use to analyze this in the west.

There is a stronger cultural connection to all things temporal AND eternal here (it seems to me).

So a person isn't just saving their own face.

They are saving face for the entire family they represent.


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