First, empty your mind of preconceptions
When you enter a room, you begin to influence and change it. Understand that influence. If you just arrived in the room, remember that everyone else has been there for longer than you. Watch them to gain information and trust your first impressions.
It’s an easy skill to learn
Nunchi is something you can pick up no matter who you are, where you are or where you want to go. Using nothing more than your eyes and ears, nunchi helps you make deeper connections with the right people, shine at work, reduce social anxiety and navigate the world with ease.
Just pay attention
“Think of it as an extreme form of tact,” suggests Jen Fletcher, a consultant and expert in South Korean culture. Fletcher says Koreans are less direct than us and rely more heavily on non-verbal cues. First of all, pay proper attention to the person speaking to you. Much of the time, we don’t listen properly to what people say. Don’t look at your phone. Pick up the unconscious or semi-conscious signals people give off. Body language is also important: mirroring the other person’s body language, gestures and facial expressions connects you with one another. Eye contact is often key to communication, but in Korea too much eye contact can be seen as a bit confrontational, so find the right balance.
It can help in many areas of your life
From boosting your influence at the office to helping you negotiate a pay rise, nunchi can give you the confidence to walk into a room and own it. It can forge relationships with friends and help you find the right partner, while also overcoming social anxiety, especially in large crowds. In a nutshell, it will improve your self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence by making you rethink your approach to the world.
You’ll learn to trust your gut instinct
When it comes to meeting people and making friends, you’ll learn to count on your intuition. Watch for tell-tale signs that are sure giveaways of whether someone is genuine or not. People with quick nunchi are speedy judges of character. It is OK to judge a person using your nunchi. You don't need to earn the right to decide for yourself whom you do and do not trust. If you’re in touch with your nunchi, you just know.
It teaches you to observe the crowd
Think about your office meetings: many people ask questions to show off or brown-nose the boss. These questions can be a nuisance, especially when everyone’s so time-poor. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing.
Good manners are a great starting point
Manners exist to make everyone feel comfortable and equal. They bring calm and stability to a room and everyone in it. If you're not sure what the rules are, use your nunchi to discern them. Watch what other people do; observe their actions and follow suit.
It’s not another fad
From finding love to excelling at work, improving your nunchi could help you. Koreans have been using it to overcome problems for more than 5,000 years. It is a guiding principle of Korean life, with parents believing that imparting nunchi to their children is as important as teaching them to cross the road safely. It is so popular and widely recognized that one of the most common phrases in Korea is ‘to have nunchi’ or ‘to have no nunchi’.
For more information, read The Power of Nunchi by Euny Hong, published on September 5th (Penguin, £12.99)