Ever heard of Nunchi?
Nothing supernatural here, just the Korean's way of reading peoples minds and...
It’s a way of living, listening and understanding more than just the words people say. It opens up a stream of empathy that could greatly benefit you and the person you are connecting with. Dayne Clarke dives into Nunchi, the secret to happiness.
Calling all those who have ever been in a work meeting, and as your colleague wraps up the presentation says, “well, no more questions means we can go for a break”, and you pipe up “Well, actually I have a question!” or perhaps you’ve uttered the phrase “How was I supposed to know? – I am not a mind reader!” in the spur of a heated moment. If this sounds familiar, then you need to work on your Nunchi.
Nunchi is a Korean word that literally translated means “eye-measure.” It’s the art of sussing how people are thinking and feeling to create connection, trust, and harmony, a concept dating back to the 17th century.
Nunchi is related to notions you may have heard of in western cultures such as emotional intelligence and situation awareness, but with two major distinguishing factors: Speed and location.
Although the concept dates back hundreds of years, the concept is still very much applicable to modern-day living. In Korea, nunchi is deeply embedded in daily life. In traditional Korean child-rearing, nunchi is on a par with “Look both ways before crossing the street” and “Don’t hit your sister.”
Parents teach their kids about nunchi starting as early as the age of three. (The tradition follows a well-known expression that goes: “A habit formed at age three lasts until age 80.”), as well as another popular saying: “Half of social life is nunchi.”
So how exactly can we incorporate Nunchi? Euny Hong is the best-selling author of the “Power of Nunchi, The Korean secret to happiness and success.” The author sheds light on how we can all awaken our Nunchi skills; here are six steps to Nunchi.
Find someone inspiringly Nunchi.
We all know someone who is amazingly good at stepping back and reading a room. Well, Hong states that making them your unofficial guide will help you learn their bag of tricks. “Most people have a mentor who always seems to know what’s going on with you.
In some invisible way, they always seem to be the perfect guests because they’re paying attention to what you want and what you don’t have,” says Hong.
Clear your mind and drop any prejudices.
Step back, breathe, and remember that labelling others prevents you from learning anything about people. If you assume you know everything about a meeting, new country, or a date before you’ve even started it, you are shutting down your senses and leaving less room to compile data about the room.
Don’t forget the Nunchi observer effect.
When you enter a room, you change the room by simply being there. Be aware of your influence on those around you. Your presence is already changing the environment without you saying a word—no need for a grand entrance.
Listen more, talk less!
Admittedly for many of us, this is a tough one. Those with quick nunchi are sharp listeners who sound other people instead of just themselves. Hong says they live by the words of Epictetus: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” When you lend others your ear, you’ll be able to communicate with them using skill and empathy.
Take etiquette very seriously.
“Browse a book on manners in any culture or country, and you will learn that there’s a common theme: to make people feel comfortable,” says Hong. Yes, this sounds somewhat old fashioned and restrictive, but we have manners for a reason.
The author says that they also establish a sense of comfort for visitors. So, in essence, if you’re having someone over, make sure you pull out the stops to make them feel welcome.
Don’t expect people to explain.
“Use your words” is a phrase that children hear a lot, but Hong says that no one (including you) should feel required to be verbal. Instead, it’s our role as empathetic human beings to use a person’s full presence and what’s happening around them to clue us in on how to best practice Nunchi.
“It’s your job to read between the lines,” states Hong. “A lot of fights, especially between couples, happen cyclically on the same topic over and over because one or both parties refuse to look beyond the words.” In time, speed and accuracy of implementing Nunchi improve. A true master of Nunchi can adapt to social situations on the fly to the benefit of those around them.
The secret to happiness – words by Dayna Clark