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What Everyone Ought to Know About Face-Threats

What Everyone Ought to Know About Face-Threats

Picture this scenario: 

You are attending a family dinner for the first time at your significant other's house.  You are super excited and perhaps a little nervous as well.  You have been dating your S.O. for about 6 months and you really want to make a great impression.  Lets agree you are in "positive face."

  • Positive face is the best and most public face you own.  You sometimes wear it to work and other important life events. In this face your desire is to be appreciated and approved of.
  • Negative face is the face we wear when we want to be free from imposition. We wear this face when we're bored and have been in positive face for a long period of time.  (For example you are most likely in negative face when you get home from work or cleaning up a holiday party.)

So you are at your S.O.'s house with a positive face. You meet the rest of the family and everything goes well.  You speak about future goals, current employment, and your nationality.  You decide to go sit on the couch with your significant other whose is sitting with the group of cousins; all under 6 years old.  Then he or she decides to go back and sit with the other adults leaving you sitting in the middle of the children. You say to yourself, "Okay, this is an awkward 'predicament.'"

  • Predicaments are instances that can potentially put you out of face; from positive to negative or vice versa.
  • Face-Threat is a threat to your presenting face that would take you out of it.

You neutralize the potential face-threatning action by pretending you're okay with it.  Then as you're about to express the movie playing is your favorite, one of the kids blurts, "THIS MOVIE'S SO GAY!"  Then the father says to you, "Isn't it the worst?!"  At this point a "face-threat" is probably inevitable.  You're neutralizing predicaments and using tactful blindness to pretend as if that didn't happen

The rest of the adults are now speaking at the dinner table about their trip to Mexico. They are speaking about the overall vacation, how it was a  great time, and they would love to go again.  The father tells everyone he wasn't the biggest fan of his trip.  A family member calls out the father, "Dad, the only reason you didn't like Mexico was because of all the, *whispers spanish,* people!"  You then realize four little children are all silent looking at you as if you've magically turned brown...and then you realize, oh yeah, I am.

Here are two types of Face-work you can start practicing today:

  • Face-Work is an action to remain congruent with your face.  Its the secret to win any uncomfortable situation.  This is because its designed to bring you to your desired face. 

These face-threatening actions are going to happen to us now and forever but its not permanent. Nothing is.  Life itself is always present and presence comes in moments.  

  1. Avoidance: Sometimes we do stupid shit. unfortunately we're bound for mistakes and life is always going to feature this in our lives so that we may continue to grow.  The next time someone face-threatens you, pull out the avoidance card.  The opinion of others is relatively minor in relation to you.  You matter far more then the words of another who presents negativity.  Walk it off, pretend it never happened, or give yourself a moment to consciously breathe and know that you're okay and always will be.  Always come back to being present in a situation and continue to show your desired face when needed.  
  2. Humor: Laughter beats anger; you experience it everyday on TV.  Comical shows present face-threatening actions all the time! Laughter releases tension of the nervous system and presents an experience that is to be taken less seriously.  The next time you are in a situation where you feel a predicament coming or you have already been face threatened, choose to look at it from a comical point and shrug it off.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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