Strengths and Weaknesses of the Theory


“There are a few concerns with the theory, however. For instance, you will recall that the theory rests on the differing experiences and perceptions of individualistic and collectivist cultures. Ting-Toomey uses this foundation to lay out the core of her theory. At times, however, this cultural dimension may not fully explain cultural differences. For instance, in her own research, Ting-Toomey and colleagues (1991) discovered some discrepancies. She found that Japanese respondents showed more concern for self-face than U.S. respondents. In addition, although Ting-Toomey proposes that individualistic cultures are not usually compromising in their conflict styles, the highly individualistic U.S. respondents used a significantly high degree of compromising when faced with a conflict. In this study, then, the identity of the U.S. respondents was displaced”. ( West, Richard)

As said before Face Negotiation is impacted by culture.  The American culture is seen as a individualistic culture.  In the example above it shows that the Japanese were more concerned with saving their own face more than the Americans.  Japan is seen as more of a collectivist culture and this example shows that if the theory of Face Negotiation is true then it should have been the other way around as far as the Americans being more concerned with saving face.  So this shows that the theory may not be correct all the time which is a weakness, but it gives us a general idea of what should happen. In this theory they also argue that it may be to general and should maybe be combined with the Politeness theory.

Face negotiation theory is affected by culture and it says that if a culture acts a certain way to saving face then the individual will act that way as well.  To me is seems like the theory neglects the individualism of a person and may or may not want to save face in certain situations based on his individualistic needs.


Strengths of the face negotiation theory are that it has given us a base to work with to help manage conflicts between two different countries.  The reason that it helps is because two different countries need to see eye to eye during negotiations to reach the same goal and this theory helps us understand that to do so we need to understand the culture and its beliefs and values that we are dealing with so we don’t offend them.

This theory also gives us an idea of why individuals may act a certain way when it comes to saving face.  It may not be the exact answer but it gives us a base to work with when dealing with a person from another cultural background.

As I have been studying this theory it has made me pay attention more to my own personal interactions.  An example that I have is I currently live with a person that is Polynesian and the Polynesian culture is very collectivist.  In the Polynesian culture they really care for one another.  I however I am from a family that is very individualistic.  As I explained in the face negotiation theory individuals like to express themselves freely with negative face well me coming from an individualistic culture I like my alone time.  My Polynesian roommate however likes to spend time together.  So studying face negotiation theory has really helped me adapt to my roommate.

The reason that it was easy for me to adapt is because from studying the theory I could now see why I was more individualistic and I could see why my roommate was more collectivist.  The theory also helped me get a basic understanding of my roommate because I somewhat knew the Polynesian culture so adapting was easier.

As I mentioned before one of the strengths of this theory is a basic understanding of how people save face and how culture impacts how individuals save face.  My  example above illustrates face negotiation theory.


West, R., & Turner, L. (2004). Face-negotiation theory. Retrieved from


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