Na2 Nie1: [noun] (NA·nîe) - Literally translated as "grasp pinch" in Mandarin Chinese, na2 nie1 refers to the trust/influence dynamic between two individuals. Those with a good understanding of na2 nie1 tend to make friends easily and consistently win the trust of new people in their lives; those with a poor awareness of na2 nie1 often unknowingly alienate potential friends and valuable connections.
With the exception of your immediate family, everybody in your life was a stranger at some point. How is it that certain people transition to becoming trusted confidants, best friends, business partners and spouses ... and why do others remain strangers, no matter how long we're aware of their existence?
In any relationship, there's an appropriate level of interaction that lies somewhere between being 'too distant,' and being 'too familiar.' This is the source of the metaphor: Grasp in a situation when you ought to just pinch, and what you reach for will likely break in your hands. Pinch when you should have grasped, and you will find yourself with a fistful of air.
Issues of na2 nie1 frequently surface in relationship 'transition points' - when strangers become friends, friends become lovers, when online correspondents meet in real life for the first time, etc. These are fragile moments, which are vulnerable to misunderstandings (since they represent significant shifts in the boundaries of the relationship). Humans are social animals, and while we may not consciously realize it, conversations frequently serve at some level as mini-'interviews' of mutual evaluation: Can I trust you? Do I enjoy your company? Would my life be better if we became better acquainted?
Consider the most socially-successful individuals you know - those who appear to effortlessly draw the trust and respect from others they touch. People like them, confide in them, and want to do business with them. While their personalities can range from the boisterously extroverted to the quietly reserved, the one thing they have in common is their ability to comfortably navigate those relationship transition points. Whether through deliberate effort or a subconscious expression of their innate empathy, their heightened awareness of na2 nie1 helps them balance initiative with restraint; they are engaging without being imposing, involved without being overbearing.
By way of contrast, we've all experienced (and been guilty of) na2 nie1 failures - the most obvious examples being situations when somebody 'overstep their bounds': one party of a casual correspondence assuming a deep friendship unreciprocated by the other, dating situations where one person presumes a level of intimacy inconsistent with the feelings of the other individual, etc.
Different people have different comfort boundaries - those with private and introverted temperaments tend to make friends slowly, and are particularly unsettled by prematurely intimate interactions; effusive 'heart-on-their-sleeves' personalities often feel snubbed if their forthcoming self-disclosures are not returned in kind.
While few of us command the kind of charisma and empathy that can effortlessly win respect and admiration at will, everybody can benefit from improving our awareness of the na2 nie1 dynamics between ourselves and the people we meet.
Tell me a story about your experience (successful or otherwise) of na1 nie2.