Don’t Lose Your Face Or Your Guanxi Will Fail Too| 2 min read

Guanxi in China

Every country has those aspects that effect the way things are done and make them different from everyone else. In china those aspects are Mianzi (face) and Guanxi (friendship/relationship), and they make some things in China completely different from elsewhere.

Face is very important to a Chinese person, if you make someone “lose face,” you run the risk of also losing their friendship. Losing face is embarrassment at a social level, and there are specific things that will cause someone to lose face. Mainly when someone is called out, told that they are doing something wrong or corrected are the worst ways to lose face.

This is important to keep in mind because while interacting with the Chinese it can be sometimes easy to make someone lose face by not even realizing you’re doing so. Face however does not translate into always being polite, in the western since of the word. Whereas being direct and honest in America is not necessarily a good thing, in China people are very direct. For instance, there are no qualms about asking how old someone is, or telling someone that they are fat, ugly or pretty.


Guanxi (friendship/relationship) is very influential when pertaining to business or when you need something to get done. Though most countries would not like to admit it, China is similar to the world in that everything depends on who you know, the Western term for it is “having the clout”. It effects business because, those who know the right people in China are generally more likely to have a successful time.

Guanxi most often effects getting things done when you are in lack of it. For example, my brother-in-law is a pilot who flew in China. Often in Shanghai his plane would be preparing to go down the runway, but then were told to wait because (though never said in so many words) a plane from another airlines, who had more guanxi, had the go for take off. The more and better guanxi you have the better off you will be.

Rachel Yoon

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