Have you ever wondered why your friend has an instinctive insight into how you can put people at ease in social situations?
Or why your colleague – the one who is not as successful on paper as you – is the one who continues to be promoted?
What about the way you always find it impossible to keep an eye on the bartender? The answer can be in one word: nunchi.
Have you ever wondered why your friend has an instinctive insight into how you can put people at ease in social situations?
Few of us have heard of it, but according to a new book to be released this fall, those who own it thrive in every area of their lives.
Nunchi is a Korean word that, directly translated, & # 39; eye measurement & # 39; means.
But like so many other phenomena of one word – take Danish hygiene, for example, to include a feeling of cosiness – it actually embodies a much broader and completely nuanced way of thinking.
According to author Euny Hong in her long-awaited book The Power of Nunchi – The Korean Secret to Happiness and Success, it can be described as & # 39; the subtle art of measuring other people's thoughts and feelings for trust, harmony and connectedness to create & # 39 ;.
Nunchi, she says, is a mixture of tact, savoir-faire, perception and an eye for social situations, all rolled up in an instinctive sense of how to read and respond to a certain encounter.
According to author Euny Hong in her long-awaited book The Power of Nunchi – The Korean Secret to Happiness And Success, Nunchi can be described as the subtle art of measuring other people's thoughts and feelings for confidence, harmony and connection to build & # 39;
For centuries it was the guiding principle of Korean life, and parents believe that giving Nunchi to their children is just as important as teaching them to cross safely.
It is not the first lifestyle concept from the East that seems to get a firm hold in the West.
Just take a look at Marie Kondo & # 39; s wildly popular unsettling philosophy inspired by her Japanese roots.
Nunchi, she says, is a mixture of tact, savoir-faire, perception and an eye for social situations, all rolled up in an instinctive sense of how to read and respond to a given encounter
Although Kondo has helped to revolutionize household management by insisting that we only retain the assets that generate & # 39; joy & # 39 ;, nunchi promises to transform everything from your career to your relationships.
As Hong explains, this is the embodiment of skills needed to communicate effectively – both at work and at home: & # 39; By improving your nunchi, you can open doors that you didn't know existed. & # 39 ;
WAY OF LIFE INSPIRED BY CONFUCIUS
The concept of nunchi – if not the name – goes back many thousands of years in Korean culture and coincides with the introduction of the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius to the country around 2500 years ago.
The central principles of Confucianism – respect for the elderly, treating others attentively in all circumstances and acting or speaking with caution – soon became the background of Korean values that underpinned the education system and government of the country.
The concept of nunchi – if not the name – goes back many thousands of years in Korean culture and coincides with the introduction of the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius to the country around 2500 years ago
HOW DOES IT WORK FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Nunchi underlines everything from the home to the workplace, as discovered nunchi expert Dr. Sofie Nyland when she first lived in the capital Seoul.
& # 39; A Korean friend said someone & # 39; had no nunchi & I asked them to explain. She said it is someone who is very clumsy and does not record social signals.
& # 39; My first thought was: & # 39; how very efficient & # 39 ;. In English we should use different words to convey the same thing, but in Korean you can just use one.
& # 39; We all know people who have no social consciousness, but there is no English word that translates. & # 39;
Dr. Nyland, 34, teaches economics at the University of Seoul, but has also become one of the few English-language writers about Nunchi and is convinced that it will take effect in Great Britain, where social media addiction undermines all our relationships. .
& # 39; I have no doubt that it will be a sensation in the UK, & # 39; she says.
& # 39; I have already started using it with my non-Korean friends. I am sure it will catch on quickly and be the new hygiene, because it is so important and useful. & # 39;
One of the most common phrases in Korea is & # 39; nunchi have & # 39; or & # 39; do not have nunchi & # 39 ;.
& # 39; If you have nunchi, you know when to talk and when to be quiet, you know how to respond, you know when to laugh, when to laugh, how to please people around you, & # 39; continues Dr. Nyland.
& # 39; The opposite is to be completely out of step with other people and to be socially uncomfortable.
& # 39; It was hard to get used to in the beginning. I was brought up with more thoughts, as we do in Western culture. & # 39;
One of the most common phrases in Korea is & # 39; nunchi have & # 39; or & # 39; do not have nunchi & # 39 ;. Above: The skyline of downtown Seoul
People said that & # 39; quick nunchi & # 39; the first to pick up the mood in the room or find someone feeling sad because of clues in their body language.
It can be used in a sarcastic way if someone points to the obvious, says Dr. Nyland.
& # 39; It may be the Korean equivalent of saying: & # 39; No kidding & # 39;. & # 39;
In a social situation, Koreans & # 39; watch nunchi & # 39 ;, observe the right dinner etiquette or find the right time to leave without appearing rude.
Then there is the expression & # 39; to eat nunchi rice & # 39 ;, which can be equated with the English expression & # 39; entered on eggshells & # 39 ;.
In essence, it means that you try very hard not to upset someone.
Dr. Nyland says she has already noticed the positive impact of nunchi.
& # 39; I feel that my relationships are a bit smoother now that I know about Nunchi. It mainly helped with my mother, & she laughs.
& # 39; When I was younger, we had many conflicts. I realize that the more we try to focus on finding a common foundation, the more our relationship improves.
That is what nunchi is about – focusing on what connects us instead of what separates us.
In the UK and the West it is so easy to focus on yourself, but in the end we are not happy if we cannot get along with other people. & # 39;
HOW DO I BRING NUNCHI INTO MY LIFE?
The good news is that anyone can sharpen their nunchi – all you need are your eyes and ears and the willingness to start reading situations before you speak or act.
& # 39; Think of it as an extreme form of tact & # 39 ;, says Jen Fletcher, a consultant and expert in South Korean culture.
She says that Koreans are less direct than we are and are more dependent on non-verbal signals – but that everyone can learn Nunchi.
But beware: if it doesn't come naturally, it won't happen overnight. & # 39; If you think it's a frustrating exercise, you're not the only & # 39 ;, Fletcher says. & # 39; It may take a while, but in the end everyone is happy and harmony is maintained. & # 39;
& # 39; Pay close attention to the person talking to you. A lot of the time we don't listen to what people say.
Don't look at your phone. Pick up the unconscious or semi-conscious signals that people spread. & # 39;
Body language is also important, as Dr. Nyland explains. & # 39; I would suggest mirroring the other person's body language, gestures, and facial expressions. & # 39;
Eye contact is good, but in Korea too much eye contact seems a bit confrontational, depending on who you are.
And taking time to think about your nunchi – or the lack thereof – will be crucial to improving it.
& # 39; Consider how you came across when you come home from a social gathering & # 39 ;, advises Dr. Nyland. & # 39; How would you perceive your behavior that night?
& # 39; Consider if there is anything that you have done that might have offended someone. & # 39;
CARE FOR WHAT YOU SAY TO OTHERS
Imagine dealing with an old friend – we'll call her Deborah. The last time you saw each other, Deborah had told you that she was certain that her partner was about to be ready.
But if you do get together, not only is Deborah wearing an engagement ring, but she is also clearly not mentioning her partner.
Thirty minutes after your meeting, you decide to immediately ask her what happened, so Deborah is in great distress when she has to reveal that her partner has still not proposed and that she feels embarrassed when she talks about her high expectations.
& # 39; That's a classic example of bad nunchi & # 39 ;, says Dr. Nyland. & # 39; Even if no one else is present, you would embarrass her.
& # 39; She is probably very aware of the fact that there is no engagement ring around her finger and if she does not tell you then you should not let it be heard because it is likely that there is a conflict that she does not want to talk.
& # 39; Maybe they broke up or had a fight. Ask a question that makes someone feel uncomfortable – "Haven't you found a job yet?", "I thought you were getting married soon?", "I heard you didn't pass your exam?" – is very bad nunchi. Hinting that someone has arrived would also be terrible. & # 39;
Another example is talking loudly about yourself without paying attention to whether someone is actually interested.
Refusing a drink or saying that you don't like the food someone ordered is also considered very bad, says Dr. Nyland.
But the worst of all? & # 39; Criticism of people in the presence of others, such as saying, "You're so bad at doing this" or "You can't do that" or "I wouldn't wear that if I were you," says Dr. Nyland .
& # 39; Humiliating someone in a public environment is the worst stunner you can have. & # 39;
Sometimes it is better to say nothing at all
In the meantime, an example of good nunchi is that you read the non-verbal signals and then use them.
Let's imagine that two colleagues – we'll call them Sarah and John – have started dating.
It's all on board, but they think it can jeopardize their professional reputation if their colleagues find out.
While chatting with David, one of her colleagues in the coffee shop, Sarah accidentally slips a piece of information that implies that she is having a relationship with John.
Instead of questioning her about it, David just continues to chat as if he didn't pick up the information.
Dr. Nyland said: & # 39; This is a very good nunchi. He makes sure that Sarah feels safe and comfortable and that her secret is safe for him.
& # 39; Bad nunchi puts people on the spot and he avoids that. He clearly shows good nunchi. By the way, if David has a good & # 39; nunchi handle & # 39; He already knew about the relationship between Sarah and John. & # 39;
Good nunchi also means providing the right signals with your own body language.
& # 39; If someone smiles at you, smile back & # 39 ;, says Dr. Nyland. & # 39; If you laugh at something and the other person has a complete poker face, you may feel offended because they don't have the same reaction as you.
This is why some people might catch the bartender's eye. So keep this in mind to achieve good nunchi. & # 39;
COULD NUNCHI REALLY IMPROVE MY LIFE?
Absolutely, says Professor Gail Kinman, a psychologist specializing in emotional intelligence.
& # 39; Here in the UK we could definitely benefit from Nunchi.
& # 39; We have it to a certain extent with British manners. But attracting the attention of the people around us is becoming a little less common nowadays, with the dependence on mobile phones.
& # 39; It is something that we might lose if we are not careful. So we should try to adopt Nunchi as much as possible. You get social benefits with your friends, relationships and family, and in formal situations such as interviews.
& # 39; Ultimately, the individuals who do better in life are those who are more emotionally intelligent, those who can better pick up the signals from others. & # 39;
It is no wonder that nunchi is one of the words most used by Korean employers.
And there is also enough room for nunchi at the British workplace.
Dr. Nyland says it simply: & # 39; At work, good nunchi makes your boss more like you. Showing bad nunchi can stop you from getting a promotion, even if you are better than a colleague on paper. & # 39;
Part of this is common sense. Prof. Kinman says that most of us, for example, know our bosses well enough to realize when they are in a good or bad mood – and we would not ask them for a raise if they were in the last.
But sharpening these skills is the key to really shine at work.
& # 39; People would like to be with you more, whether they realize why or not, & # 39; she says. & # 39; It's quite a subconscious thing, but your colleagues would feel comfortable around you and your boss would prefer you, because you're the type of person who can pick up things they can't say. You would be seen more positively. & # 39;
And Prof. Kinman thinks that nunchi and the realization that it brings can have benefits for people in all aspects of their lives.
& # 39; It could help you with relationships, at work, and it could help parents with children. & # 39;
She even believes that emotional intelligence should be taught in British schools.
& # 39; Starting early is important, & # 39; she claims. & # 39; It is harder for adults to learn because they tend to be more stuck in their routines, but it can be learned.
& # 39; We are all naturally good at picking up the emotions of people around us – we just have to find it in ourselves. & # 39;
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