Reading Time: 2 minutes

My book review is on Euny Hong’s book: The Power of Nunchi: The Korean Sixth Sense for Winning Friends and Influencing People. Nunchi is a Korean concept closely akin to emotional intelligence. It has helped the Korean people survive and thrive despite multiple invasions through the years.

Hong’s book is about developing the ability to “read” other people. It’s about being aware of cultural differences that might impact whether we shake hands, for example. It offers suggestions for practicing and improving your nunchi, many of which involve thinking first about others. Some takeaways include:

  • Children are taught nunchi, and specifically, the need to focus more on others than ourselves, from a very early ago. It’s deeply ingrained in South Korean culture.
  • Context is critical. What might be appropriate in one setting is completely inappropriate in another.
  • Unlike emotional intelligence, nunchi focuses on speed – or the need to quickly be able to assess where others stand.
  • Listen to what others say, and what they don’t say. Many of your questions will get answered.
  • Focus on the room, not just one individual. When you walk into a new setting, remember that you are the last one there, and quickly assess the room before engaging. Focus on how your contemplated actions might affect others in the room.
  • Introverts often have the nunchi advantage. They aren’t so busy engaging and therefore, often spend their time assessing others.
  • If you find that it’s hard for you to shut up and observe others, try looking people in the eye and watching their eyes while you talk.
  • How we feel impacts how we see others. Ask yourself if you are “hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.” You can remember this by thinking about the acronym HALT. (p. 80)
  • If you find yourself in conflict, breathe deeply for a second or two, and “ask yourself two simple questions before you think or act: “What am I doing and why?” (p. 48)
  • Learn to associate where you feel something with what that feeling means. For example, fear is most often felt in the gut, while anxiety can often be felt in both the head and the chest. (p. 197-198)

Many of these suggestions are great for project teams. Thanks for reading.
Question? Just ask.