Have you ever wanted to say to someone, “Back up, you’re in my personal space?”
We all have a comfort zone, an invisible zone of psychological comfort that we carry with us. It’s the region surrounding each person, or that area which a person considers their domain or territory. It’s the bubble of space that you keep between you and the person standing in front of you. We call it our personal space. How much personal space one needs varies depending on who we are talking to and the situation we are in.
Ever notice how uncomfortable you get when someone gets too close to you physically? That means that person has invaded your personal boundaries.
I once had a female supervisor who was like the guy in this video. (Yes, she’s the same person I mentioned in my post “Green with Envy.”) She was this way with everyone. It made me think, “What’s wrong with you?”
In 1966, Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist, introduced the term proxemics.
What is Proxemics?
- The study of the cultural, behavioral, and sociological aspects of spatial distances between individuals
- The study of set measurable distances between people as they interact
- Has to do with the study of our use of space and how various differences in that use can make us feel more relaxed or anxious.
Different cultures maintain different standards of personal space. Mr. Hall has broken down the distances of personal territory (for U.S. Americans) into 4 areas:
0-18 inches: Intimate distance
Has this ever happened to you at work?
18 inches – 4 feet: Personal distance for interactions among good friends or family members
4 feet – 12 feet: Social distance for interactions among acquaintances
12 feet – 25 feet or more: Public distance used for public speaking
Comfortable personal distances also depend on the social situation, gender, and individual preference.
I think many of us know these personal space etiquette tips. This video is especially for those people who are personal space invaders, and don’t know it:
When interacting with others, be mindful of their personal space. Remember these words to a song by “The Police” — “Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me!”
Other info on proxemics:
Book – “The Hidden Dimension,” by Edward T. Hall
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