Nunchi: The 8 Rules Of This Korean Secret To Emotional Intelligence


Are you wondering why some people just light up the room from the moment they just walk in? Wondering how a stranger can read your mind so well? Do you have the ability to maintain harmonious relationships with everyone you are in contact with today? If you don’t know why and how then it’s time to get introduced to the traditional Korean concept – Nunchi.

What Is Nunchi?

  • Nunchi is a Korean word which translates to ‘eye measure’.
  • It is a soft skill, a subtle art of gauging other people’s thoughts and feelings in order to build trust, harmony and connection.

Introduced to Koreas about 2500 years ago with the teachings of Confucius, Nunchi, also known as noonchi, is an art and ability to tune into other people’s thoughts and feelings. In Korea, even children in their early years are well-aware of this concept.

The Korean philosophy encompasses how to ascertain others’ moods by being with them and communicating effectively in high context culture (where harmony and the well-being of the group are preferred over individual achievement). In Korea, personal relationships are more important than business. Thus, Nunchi is critical to strengthen interpersonal relationships and establish mutual trust.

In Chinese culture, Nunchi means eye force/power, but the same in western culture is described as emotional intelligence. However, Euny Hong, the author of the book The Power of Nunchi: the Korean Secret to Happiness and Success, says that emotional intelligence primarily focuses on tapping into other people’s feelings but people with nunchi can take the temperature of a room that they walk in and adapt their actions accordingly. Nunchi relies on understanding your own status relative to the person with whom you’re interacting.

Related: 12 Ways To Improve Emotional Intelligence Through Self Care

People who lack nunchi are clueless, can’t understand the situation quickly, and don’t seem to have any common sense. Understanding this wonderful philosophy will help a person to sense and relate with other people’s state of mind, get a base understanding of the person they met, build respectful rapport, and maintain harmony.

According to Euny Hong, nunchi is well suited for modern life because it requires speed and adaptability to catch up with the fast-paced, digital world.

That’s absolutely right!!! 

Today we are living in a world where people add or remove friends don’t make friends. Social media is ruling our lives so much that we focus more on others’ lives than our lifestyle, needs wants, and goals. Stress and anxiety have become our life partners and prevent us from reaching our full potential. In the quest to survive the cut-throat competition, we become more self-centered.

Over time, we turn more individualistic and less empathetic to ourselves as well as others. We frequently encounter arguments with friends, misunderstandings, chaos, and conflicts. We fail to fit in diverse social situations. The situation is even worse when it comes to introverts.

Nunchi is a powerful technique to connect with yourself, control your mind, build harmonious relationships, avoid chaos, stay grounded in a stressful situation, and strengthen personal, social, and professional life. Unlike most western countries that emphasize autonomy and individualism, nunchi emphasizes unity, collectivism, and relationship-building. 

In short, Nunchi is the path to a better life!!! It’s a getaway to become healthier and happier. 

Related: What Makes You Happy? Harvard Study Finds #1 Way To A Good Life

Nunchi seems to have played a great role in the rapid development of Korea and its transformation from a poor nation to a high-income nation just in few generations. Not just economic stability but Korea has also emerged as a culturally powerful nation.   

But, what is the right approach to Nunchi?
Author Euny Hong in her book mentioned that nunchi is the art of using five senses along with the sixth sense to understand others’ ideas, thoughts, and feelings. She mentioned eight rules of Nunchi based on her book.

The 8 rules of Nunchi

1. Nurture relationships

One must spend significant time nurturing personal and professional relationships, developing and fostering new contacts.

2. Observer effect

Whenever you meet someone, you need to spend more time listening to others and observing details like what they like, what irritates them, what makes them happy, their etiquette, and so on. Collecting such data will help you comfort yourself and others. As a result, you can quickly build trust and rapport with everybody you meet. 

3. Develop non-verbal skills

Using nunchi requires Koreans to convey emotions through non-verbal communication skills such as facial expression, body language, eyes, voice pitch, and so on. Because what is not spoken is as important as what is spoken according to Euny. She also says that by speaking less you can automatically get your queries or doubts resolved. At the same time, you gain the power to stay tuned with the environment.

Related: 4 Simple Daily Practices That Can Make You Happier (Based On Brain Research)

4. Learn to think fast

People who are well-versed with this Korean concept are not only active listeners but can smoothly gauge others’ moods. For that, you must be quick enough to grasp the social circumstance, adapt fast, and behave as per the context and atmosphere of the situation. Speed is the critical factor if you want to master nunchi!

5. Learn social manners

You must always try to catch up with new words, trends, gestures, circumstances so that you can recalibrate your assumptions or expectations and improve awareness.

6. Be intuitive

Besides tact and perceptiveness, nunchi demands one to have an instinctive sense of how to read a given encounter and how to respond to it.

7. Boost your self-awareness

To hone this skill you must also develop strong self-awareness and a strong understanding of your own emotions so that you can better relate with others.

low self-awareness

8. Build your emotional vocabulary

With a strong emotional vocabulary, you can better express yourself. For instance, instead of just answering “I’m feeling good”, you may speak more specifically say- “I’m feeling enthusiastic”. With such an ability you can boost emotional intimacy with others. Consequently, you will find it easier to read others’ minds, influence people, and develop better connections in a short span of time.

Nunchi not only improves your relationship with your loved ones, friends, colleagues, business partners, and others but boosts self-love and self-promotion.

Koreans who practice this philosophy also have strong self-control. They know how to manage themselves and quieten their mind when intense emotions are gushing in. This habit makes you observant and mindful and helps you focus on yourself rather than others.

At a very basic level, people will be happier to be around you if you have quick nunchi,” says Hong.

Related: Self-Awareness vs. Self-Consciousness: The Confidence Perspective

That’s all about the Korean secret to happiness!!!

I hope you enjoyed reading about this mind-blowing Korean philosophy. If you want to develop quick nunchi, just find someone who has already mastered this concept and ask them to guide you. Seek a mentor and practice on a daily basis. Make sure to use your eyes and ears well!

So, are you ready to build your emotional intelligence using nunchi? Let me know in the comments.

Nunchi Traditional Korean Concept Build Relationships pin
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