How Saving Face Cultivates High-Performance Culture

On Wednesday, June 10, we had the pleasure of speaking with Maya Hu-Chan – executive coach, leadership development educator, and author of the recently published book, “Saving Face – How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust”. The focus of our conversation was how helping others ‘save face’ can create an environment of psychological safety. We also spoke about how this helps cultivate a positive, fulfilling human experience of work – something near and dear to SupportingLines!

This blog post is Part 1 of our Saving Face Webinar Recap Series. To watch Part 1 of the conversation, check out the video below!

Saving Face. 

Saving Face is a common term you may have heard of. But have you actually thought about what it means? In our conversation with Maya, she explained that saving face is actually a universal concept that speaks to a human’s need for dignity and for acceptance. It permeates beyond social and business interactions, into all levels of human life. Saving face is the work that is done to preserve and protect all the attributes of one’s face, from self-esteem, to pride, to dignity.

What is face?

“It represents not only how you see yourself, but also how other people perceive you. So it’s inside and out, it’s your whole person. Face represents one’s self-esteem, self-worth, identity, reputation, status, pride, and most importantly your dignity.”

Maya explained how we can look at face as social currency. As you build trust with others, express gratitude and appreciation, compliment people and give credit where credit is due, you are gaining face. The more face you have, the more trust you have, the easier and faster you can accomplish things.

Saving face and psychological safety

If we take a look back at the definition of psychological safety which was provided to us by Dr. Jamie Madigan in our webinar on Anxiety and Data, he explained that psychological safety is a climate or culture created by a group. In an atmosphere with trust and respect, we feel psychologically safe to do or say something considered “risky”.

When we tie the two concepts of saving face and psychological safety together, it seems impossible to create psychological safety without being attuned to face. After all, they are both essential components of a positive, fulfilling human experience of work. 

Psychological safety is something that we need in order to feel supported at work, to grow, challenge others, and become high-performers in our role. Face is a fundamental human need that goes beyond the workplace. In saving face, it seems logical that psychological safety would come in hand. So in order to understand the human experience, we must be understanding of the face of others.  

If you would like to assess the whether you have a high-performance culture, where teams achieve more goals while having a positive, fulfilling human experience of work please take our free HPI Leader Survey and we’d be happy to debrief it with you.

Want to watch the rest of the conversation? Click here to request the full webinar recording.

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