5 Ways to Boost the Nunchi at your School

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Like any good coworker, you want to not only be viewed as a hard worker, but also an approachable person.  In South Korea especially, there is a very specific way get some good workplace Karma: nunchi, or 눈치.

What is Nunchi?눈치

Nunchi is a word that is not easy to describe in English. Why? Because it literally doesn’t exist. And you will hear it a million times once you’re in South Korea. The word roughly describes as “the group feeling,” or an intuitive ability to sense how everyone feels. Although it’s rarely verbally addressed, Koreans rely on one’ s social status and personal relationship to gauge how to act and react in a situation.  This is especially true of work relationships.  Regardless if you are at a work engagement or an outing with Korean friends, breaking the nunchi is a social faux pas. Ways to break the “nunchi” include, but aren’t limited to

Like any good coworker, you want to not only be viewed as a hard worker, but also an approachable person.  In South Korea especially, there is a very specific way get some good workplace Karma: nunchi, or 눈치.

What is Nunchi?눈치

Nunchi is a word that is not easy to describe in English. Why? Because it literally doesn’t exist. And you will hear it a million times once you’re in South Korea. The word roughly describes as “the group feeling,” or an intuitive ability to sense how everyone feels. Although it’s rarely verbally addressed, Koreans rely on one’ s social status and personal relationship to gauge how to act and react in a situation.  This is especially true of work relationships.  Regardless if you are at a work engagement or an outing with Korean friends, breaking the nunchi is a social faux pas. Ways to break the “nunchi” include, but aren’t limited to

  • leaving a party or work event earlier than everyone else
  • getting angry or visibly upset (or losing face)
  • asking a question that may offend or hurt some one’s feelings

The good news is that most foreigners have a wild card when it comes to nunchi.  We can for the most part completely ignore it. For example, if you do not want to stay out all night drinking with your Korean coworkers, chances are that they will not look down on you. On the other hand, it’s usually a good idea to be aware of the social structure and try to be as compliant as possible.  And having tact in any relationship, be it in Korea or in your home country, is one of the best ways to keep and maintain relationships. But, it’s always good to boost the nunchi especially in the office. Here are 5 ways to improve your  ”group feeling” at work:

  • After an especially hard work week, bring in snacks or treats
  • If someone is sick, pass around a get-well-soon card for everyone to sign
  • If you know a coworker is always running late in the morning, bring him/her a special breakfast/lunch snack, since they probably didn’t have time to eat
  • After coming back from a vacation or trip, bring your bosses a small gift
  • If you know a coworker is having a tough day, bring them a small snack the next day.

Although it may sound like a ton of gift-giving, it really adds up to a better work environment for you.  All in all, a little extra acts of thoughtfulness go a long way in the nunchi world.



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