SINGAPORE (June 11): The group wandered into the meeting room and then sat in random seats on both sides of the long double-sided table. When the Chinese counterparts arrived, there was utter confusion because the scatter of seating told them nothing about the delegation of foreigners. It was not a good start to the meeting because face had already been lost and the Western delegation was at an imme­diate disadvantage. 

Face is your standing and reputation in the community, among friends and with strangers. It is all-pervasive and a constant concern in China.

Face is about respect and sincerity. Face without sincerity is a falsehood, and this falseness is quickly unmasked by people who have spent a lifetime assessing character as a foundation of survival. Chinese friends talk of people having a good heart. This is not a cliché. It is an assessment of sincerity.

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