Each time I leave the house, I put on my face. When I meet someone, I put on my meeting face. When I lead a workshop, I put on my "workshop leader" face. When I pick up my grandchild, I put on my grandparent face. When I meet a stranger, I put on my "do I want to get to know you?" face.
Our face is what we want others to see in us. Integrity is having all our face reflect something of our essential character. When someone represents themselves one way in one setting and another way in another setting, they are called "two-faced". We get embarrassed when more of us is revealed than we want our face to reveal. When that happens, we become "red-faced".
Face is important. It has to do with our reputation or our dignity. That's why "loss of face" is a very significant loss. When we have known ourselves to be a certain kind of person and something happens to make others see us differently than we have been seen, we feel naked. We feel exposed. We lose standing among our peers. Loss of face can be one of the hardest losses we suffer.
Many conficts in our lives are the result of our fear of losing face. Many arguments are intensified when one or both parties are trying to save face. Some conflicts become heated and aggressive when we feel our reputation, our value, our worth is being threatened.
In the midst of such "face-losing" situations, it is important to help people save face. It is important to figure out how to build up the other. Our self-worth is central to our stability and sense of security. When that is threatened, we will be defensive. When we are more secure and our value is not undermined, we are able to engage issues with more reason and grace.