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Face-Negotiation Theory of Stella Ting-Toomey
Stella Ting-Toomey's face-negotiation theory helps explain the cultural differences of responding to conflict. She assumes that people of every culture are always negotiating "face." The term face is a metaphor for our public self-image, the way we want others to see us and treat us. Facework "refers to specific verbal and nonverbal messages that help to maintain and restore face loss, and to uphold and honor face gain." Our identity can always be called into question, and the anxiety and uncertainty churned up by conflict render us especially vulnerable. Face-negotiation theory postulates that the facework of people from individualistic cultures like the United States will be strikingly different from the facework of people from collectivistic cultures like Japan or Korea. According to Ting-Toomey, when the facework is different, the style of handling conflict will vary as well.