A while ago, my Dad lived and worked in the Philippines (now he runs Bali Center for Artistic Creativity in Ubud, Bali). He often tells the following tale:
Once, my Dad and a friend of his were traveling in Mindanao (a violence-stricken island in the South of the Philippino arhipelago). They were staying in a hotel in the main city on the island and were having a few beers on their balcony. Dad’s friend became quite animated about something, made a big gesture with his arms and sent the bottle flying off the balcony and on to the balcony below (the exterior of the hotel resembled rice terraces). They looked over the balcony to see a terrifying sight: a humiliated general of the local military rubbing a bump on his head and wiping beer from his dripping face. To make things worse, he was surrounded by a large number of soldiers who had their guns trained on the faces of the two foreigners peering at them! Moments later, the door was knocked in and Dad and his friend thought they were facing certain death.
“I apologize a mllion times,” said my dad’s friend and then bowed down in front of the general who had no option but to accept the apology.
“Allow me to make up for my terrible mistake by paying for you and all of your friends to eat drink and play pool tonight.”
The general graciously accepted, they all became bosom buddies and the two lucky foreigners were escorted to the airport by a military convoy the following day.
I think this is a fantastic illustration of international-mindedness. My Dad’s friend fully understood the value of face and what he needed to do in order to “give face back” to the disgraced general in front of his subordinates. Someone less aware of the culture he was in might have been less confident, might have gone on the defensive, might have made poor excuses or might have become haughty and superior about the “fuss over nothing”.
Have you got any similar stories?