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In exchanges among people, the idea is to talk about ideas or just get to know one another through polite conversation. This allows all of the people participating to be comfortable and contribute their share to the conversation. The concept of saving face in front of other people is to not be put on the spot and made uncomfortable or even to feel unwanted or threatened by what someone else says to you. Everyone wants to look good, and an act which threatens that looking good among the group is a face threatening act. Now, a dynamic has been set up which requires a response, and often the response is to use face threatening words or acts in return, destroying the group's ability to get to know each other.
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