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Final notes on "face" Final notes on "face"
by Joseph Gatt
2020-09-27 07:18:13
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“Face-saving” cultures can be complicated to navigate. So here's a brief guide, almost everything you need to know.

When you're smart, act like you're dumb
When you're dumb, act like you're smart

Here's how things got confusing for me. My late foster father used to run around the global political scene (he was a high-ranking diplomat) and would get all the praise for his foster son Yossi Gatt being a smart kid.

His reply? “Yossi Gatt is a fucking idiot. A bum. Almost illiterate.” And people wonder why I skipped his funeral.

Because my foster father would talk about me like that, a lot of people thought that I was really “faking” intellect like they do in face-saving cultures, and did away with my services.

people1_400So in face-saving nations, when you read books and the papers, you claim that you don't know anything. You act like you're dumb, and stay quiet most of the time. You make it sound like intellect confuses you.

When you've never read a book, and read nothing other than tabloids, you make it sound like you're a genius. You make stuff about intellect. You give lectures about politics, the economy or science that makes no sense.

When you speak a foreign language fluently, almost at the native level, you claim that you don't speak the foreign language, or have trouble with it.

When you don't speak a foreign language, you make it sound like you speak it fluently.

When someone speaks a foreign language fluently, you berate them for their language mistakes, even when there are no mistakes. Or you ask those questions about the foreign language, and claim that they got the answer wrong.

When someone does not speak a foreign language, you praise them for speaking that foreign language very well.

When you're pleased, make it sound like you're irritated.
When you're irritated, make it sound like you're pleased.

For example, if you work at a company and that everyone gets a raise and bonus. Everyone's going to complain that “the raise and bonus should have come a lot sooner.”

When you're a company and that despite excellent profits, you give everyone a pay cut. That's when quiet a few people are going to come to you and say that the pay-cut was long overdue, and that those who complain about it “do not have the interests of the company in mind.”

When you work hard, act like you're lazy
When you're lazy, act like you work hard

In face-saving cultures, the guys who work hard drop hints that they're not. They might show up at work late, they might leave work early. They will hide the fact that they're getting the work done.

When they're lazy and get nothing done, they stay in the office until midnight or 2 AM, show up at 7 AM, “don't take lunch breaks” and complain about being over-worked.

When you love him/her, act like you hate him/her
When you hate him/her, act like you love him/her

This is why I've given up on dating girls from face-saving cultures, even if they're as Jewish as a bagel or challah.

When they're madly in love with you, they're going to play games making it sound like they don't need you. They're going to go days without picking up the phone. They're going to make it sound like they're looking at other people. They're going to be cold with you. And when you leave them, they get super depressed. When you come back to them, they go back to pretending they don't love you all that much.

When they're not really in love, or they don't have feelings for you, they fake the feelings. They might tell you cheesy lines that they love you. They might call you cheesy pet names. They might spend a lot of time with you. But you can sense that they're not comfortable with you.

When you're opposed, act like you agree
When you agree, act like you're opposed

I love it when foreign governments try to tell me something about the opposition.

You have hardcore opponents to the government, who go on the international media criticizing the corruption and mismanagement. The government winks at me, brings those folks to the table, gives them a stash of money, and suddenly, those guys in the opposition are no longer opposed to the government.

However, the ones dictatorships fear the most are the insiders. The guy giving interviews on CNN calling you a dictator is not your biggest threat. Your biggest threats are your vice-president, prime minster, secretary of state, speaker of parliament, head of the intelligence services, head of the armed forces. Those guys are the guys you will be most worried about. They will appear to agree with you about everything, but will depose you and replace you when given the opportunity.

When you're clean, act like you're corrupt
When you're corrupt, act like you're clean

The guys who are too scared to steal anything or to have erratic sex lives will often claim to have multiple mistresses and to have loose morals. Truth is, the guys who brag about abusing the system are often too scared to abuse the system. They will talk about dealing drugs or taking kickbacks, but when you start plotting with them, they chicken out.

On the other hand, the guys who wear dirty jeans and a dirty shirt and who claim never to have stolen anything in their life. They're the dangerous ones. They are either in the mafia, or play with the mafia, or would do illegal stuff if presented with the opportunity. And yet they will claim to be clean.

When you hate, praise. When you love, criticize.

This is why I never lasted more than six months on a job in face-saving nations.

When they love you and your presence, they're going to tell you that they don't welcome you. I remember one job I had where people were imitating everything I did. Yet, every morning I showed up, I would get my load of criticism for the day.

The guys who couldn't get the job done? They didn't get their load of criticism every morning. They'd actually get quite a lot of praise. When in fact they would have been fired if they could.

When you know, tell them you don't know.
When you don't know, tell them you know.

Here's how it goes. Do you know how the government works?

If you do know. You tell people you don't know. And you listen to them inventing stories about the government.

When you don't know. You claim that you do know and make stuff up.

Do you know what the law says? If you do know, you claim that you don't know, and tell them to look it up. When you don't know, you make stuff up.

This lack of cooperation in information sharing is one of the most frustrating aspects of “face-saving cultures.” If they have the information, they refuse to share it and guard it jealously. If they don't have the information, they make stuff up.

In face-saving nations, a lot of people tell me “Yossi, stop writing articles! Jealously guard your secrets and play hard to get!” What I usually tell them is I still have a few more stories to tell.

When they don't have something, tell them they have it.
When they have something, tell them they don't have it.

This is where it gets offensive. When they're “poor” you praise them about being “rich” and pepper that praise with stories making their meager and modest belongings sound like it's a treasure. As the saying goes, if they're riding a donkey, praise their beautiful horse. 

When they're rich and possess all kinds of treasures, you tell them their treasures are worthless and everyone has them.

When there's nothing to brag about, brag.
When there's stuff to brag about, make it sound like there's nothing.

This is my strong point in face-saving cultures. I'm the pragmatic kind of guy who tries hard not to brag, and who really focuses on getting the work done. This is probably the reason I'm still alive.

In face-saving cultures, when you really have a solid foundation, or have solid riches, you don't brag.

When you're deep down in debt, never read a book in your life, dropped out of middle school, and married some obese lazy bum, you brag about having it all.

When they're strong, tell them they're weak.
When they're weak, tell them they're strong.

I'll conclude with this. I'm 36 years old. I spent 32 years of my life in “face-saving” cultures.

In those 32 years, I was constantly framed as a “weak” person.

Now if I were really weak, people would have framed me as a “strong” person and watched me destroy myself using that illusion of strength.

But because the face-saving people surrounding me were really scared that I would use my strengths to my advantage, and that I would actually succeed, the people surrounding me framed me as a “weak” individual.

This has almost led to fist-fights in some cases. I've been to many meetings where I was introduced as a “weak” person, and where the people talking to me were talking about “saving me.” I'd leave slamming the door. In some instances there were people I kicked out of the house. In other cases I told people, using vivid examples, how dumb they were, and that they were the ones who needed saving.

But if they framed me as weak, it's because deep down inside, they are scared of my strengths.

Now I'm single, 36, never been married. What I noticed about a lot of women I meet is that they are indeed afraid that if I become strong I will crush them into submission (like most men do in face-saving cultures) which is why women tend to try hard to point out my weaknesses, when they are in fact scared of my strengths.

Those women often don't understand that I have core values that I'm a loyal guy, and that egalitarianism (and tolerance for almost every mistake) are deep held beliefs that I have.

That is even if I were very strong and powerful; I would treat family and friends with loyalty and equality, like most people in free nations do.

Now a lot of men, and especially women, don't understand this, and try hard to sabotage my missions because they're scared I might micromanage their lives if I were to become too powerful. Now those are women who do not believe in freedom and equality, and are women who tend to believe that life's goal is to control other people and to prove to other people that you're better than them. That's why, as for now, I enjoy being single. “Friends” I can kick out of the house with little or no drama. Lovers are a bit harder to kick out of the house if they start irritating me or sabotaging my missions.

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