The kindness of saving face is a type of kindness extended to others to help them avoid embarrassment or humiliation. The best example of this is in the movie Gone With The Wind, when gossip is spread linking Miss Scarlett and Ashley Wilkes romantically after they are caught in an embrace, yet Melanie Wilkes makes a point of graciously welcoming Scarlett into her home in front of everyone at a party. Melanie covered up for her friend Scarlett by acting kindly despite the gossip. We show grace and kindness when we help people save face in front of others – especially when others have committed a faux pas out of awkwardness or unfamiliarity with the local customs. In doing so we put others at ease and win lifelong gratitude and admiration. Not a bad tradeoff for helping someone out of an awkward situation. In negotiating, helping an adversary save face while making a concession can often be the key to success.

Few people intentionally seek to humiliate or embarrass another, most often we do so accidentally or without thinking. It is kind to extend grace to the other party and pretend/assume that their act (i.e. throwing or giving away something you gave them) was an accident (for example, assuming it was lost) rather than making a fuss about it. Gift recipients know that your gift is not being displayed in their home – don’t rub it in their face. It was after all, their property to do with as they please. Sometimes the lesson learned is not to give people gifts intended to decorate their home, as taste is a very subjective and personal thing. It may really be as simple as that.

Try to put yourself in the other person’s position and see it through their eyes – even if you are feeling hurt – and never speak out of emotions. Be graceful, be kind, and if it needs to be addressed privately (not all situations need to be addressed), then do so later when you can speak without letting your emotions override grace and kindness – and speak in private. Remember that kindness is a lifestyle, not something we only do when we feel like it.

Ron Hill