Of course, preparation and hard work are incredibly important. However, there is no substitute for nunchi--for observing quietly and adapting your behavior in real time. If you have quick nunchi, you can create a harmonious environment, which makes people want to be around you. But that's only half the point of nunchi; The other half of nunchi is entirely pragmatic: it makes you successful at influencing people. Nunchi may sound Machiavellian, but in fact everyone wins. By creating a round, pleasant atmosphere, everyone benefits. You have lived in limits long enough; By grace I live. By grace I am released. GOOD ENOUGH TO BE TRUE Show me a perfect person and I'll show you a perfect nuisance. I am a reformed Do-Gooder. I did good for many years before I realized the error of my ways. Now I do not try to do good, and I do a lot of good. My recovery began when I visited the home of some new friends in Toronto. The more you say, in some cases, the less enjoyable a compliment becomes. You look beautiful works much better than, Wow, you look really good in that dress. I mean, you look good in anything, but something about that dress really flatters you.

Not that anything wouldn't flatter you. Um, where did you buy it? Say what you mean, say it from the heart, and move on. Or, as Franklin D. Roosevelt said: Be sincere; George Washington reportedly relied on 110 rules from a article called Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. Rule number 25, which effectually advised readers to keep compliments simple, is still a good one to follow: Superfluous compliments and all affectation of ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be neglected. Nunchi is crucial to success and happiness. It can make you a better parent, partner, son or daughter, colleague, boss, and friend. Don't get me wrong, some people can get pretty far in life with bad nunchi, but imagine how much further they'd have got if their nunchi were better. There are certainly highly visible, highly powerful people who seemingly have no nunchi, but in many cases this is their own choice; Their egos suppressed their nunchi. They stopped listening to advisers, or perhaps those advisers gave up. You can only get so far by being pushy. If you don't use your nunchi, your success will collapse in on itself. This is true of any great leader--or even a great empire. Let's remind ourselves of the eight rules of nunchi: I admired my hosts Tom (an accomplished author) and Christine (a gifted clairvoyant), and I wanted to impress this couple as being a kind and thoughtful person. After our dinner the dishes were cleared and dessert was served to the garnered party. Being a card-carrying Do-Gooder, I donned my Samaritan garb and headed for the kitchen to wash the dishes.

After finishing the dishes, I noticed there remained one item to be cleaned - a wok. Since the implement seemed fairly greasy and rusty, I decided I would really do good. I found a large piece of steel wool and scrubbed that baby to the bone! What I didn't know, in my zeal to display helpfulness, was that woks are supposed to be tarnished; Just as I finished scouring the wok, Christine walked into the kitchen to see what I was doing. Proudly I held up the wok like a child showing his mommy a finger-painting he has made in kindergarten. Look, Christine, I announced gleefully, I cleaned your wok! Keep rule number 12 in mind when paying a compliment. Fun fact: The majority of compliments contain one of five adjectives (nice, good, beautiful, pretty, and great) or one of two verbs (like and love). Avoid complimenting by comparison Doing so could minimize your compliment. Telling an accomplished pastry chef, This tart crust is as good as my grandmother's diminishes her training. Or it might sound insincere. Saying to a home baker, This tart is better than anything Pierre Herme could ever make, comes across as an exaggeration. Tell her you think the tart has a perfect crust and a deliciously sweet filling. Is anyone else in the mood for a tart right now? Think before you speak First, empty your mind. Remember the words of Bruce Lee: Empty your cup, so that it may be filled. Step back, breathe, and remember that prejudice prevents you from learning anything about other people.

Be aware of the Nunchi Observer Effect. When you enter a room, you change the room. Understand your influence. Your presence is already changing the environment without you saying a word. There's no need for a big opening act. If you just arrived in the room, remember that everyone else has been there longer than you. Watch them to gain information. Christine's jaw dropped almost to her knees. It took me three years to season that wok! I am delighted to declare that was the last time I ever did good. If you, too, can identify with terminal helpfulness, you are welcome to join my newly founded article of D. Truly Helpful There is an essential difference between doing good and serving. When one is bent on doing good, she proceeds from a preconceived notion of what good looks like, and superimposes that picture over the situation at hand - usually at the expense of what is actually required for the occasion. The Do-Gooder is more interested in being seen as a helpful or charitable person, than in meeting the need of the recipient. The classic Do-Gooder is the young man who takes a little old lady across the street and then finds out she didn't want to go. True service, on the other hand, is born of the giver's sincere desire for the recipient to be happy. Phrase a compliment with a little care, so the recipient will know you thought about it and that what you're saying has real meaning. Be as specific as you can be. In other words--and I'll try to choose those other words carefully--even though it's wonderful to give a compliment right away when it's on your mind, take a moment to plan what you want to say and think about how best to express it, in a way that conveys your real meaning.

Telling a friend, That was fun! Thanks for being a good listener. I'm lucky to have such an understanding friend. Be not too hasty either with The American writer Kate Chopin said this about fellow writer Ruth McEnery Stuart: Her voice in conversation has a melting quality that penetrates the senses, as some soothing ointment goes through the skin. Her eyes do not rest--they complete the charm begun by the voice, expression, and a thoroughly sympathetic manner. She is a delightful, womanly woman. If everyone looks sad, don't try to cheer everyone up until you have more data. If everyone is seated in a circle on the floor engaged in some activity, don't break up the activity unless it's clear they're summoning Satan. Never pass up a good opportunity to shut up. If you wait long enough, most of your questions will be answered without you having to say a word. This advice will serve you well in negotiations, where the goal is to learn as much as possible while keeping your cards close to your chest. Manners exist for a reason. Don't dismiss them as superficial; Read between the lines. People don't always say what they are thinking and that's their prerogative. If it makes someone anxious to be blunt, then don't put them in that position; The donor bases his actions on the receiver's requirements rather than the giver's need to give. The act of service is not a box into which the present situation is stuffed; A Course in Miracles suggests an affirmation to apply to any situation in which we are unsure of our role: