Angela Chan, Stephanie Schnurr, Olga Zayts
July 5, 2018
This paper examines the discursive processes involved in the construction and negotiation of face in Chinese business interactions. Drawing on 20 hours of authentic video- and audio-recorded business meetings in two companies in Hong Kong, we analyse how interlocutors do facework while orienting to and actively constructing their interpersonal relationships. Our particular focus is disagreements upwards, i. e., those, potentially very face-threatening, disagreements that are uttered by subordinates targeted at their superiors. Findings illustrate that some disagreements are relatively strong but face and relationship maintaining, while others are relatively weak but face and relationship challenging. We not only argue that the processes of doing facework and managing relationships are closely interwoven, but we also illustrate the important role of identity in these processes, and argue that the notion of identity should be incorporated into theories of face and relationship management as it constitutes an integral aspect of how interlocutors construct and negotiate face.