When a stranger came shoulder to shoulder out of a sudden, a person’s natural response is to protect herself and her belongings. Some will cast a hazy stare. Men may push him off without haste. This is because strangers are not welcome to enter our personal space.
Personal space is claimed territory around us. It is described as an “imaginary bubble”; and serves as an extension of our self. We are wary to people coming close to us. In situations where we are forced to crowd, we become uncomfortable. This is the reason co-riders in elevators are quiet.
People whom we have intimate relationships, be it friends or family, are permitted to invade our space. And at certain instances, we allow strangers to enter and shake hands or dip cheeks; but this is a brief contract of consent. A swift kiss from an acquaintance is alright but it’s a violation if it took minutes.
It is rude to strand next to someone too deep inside his personal space; but it is equally rude to be too away.
Culture defines a difference in personal space. Westerners generally have wider personal space compared to Asians because west people embrace more individualism; and thus demand more territory. People from United States, Canada and England require the largest personal space.
Aside from geographical influences, men have broader comfort zones than women. People from the higher class of society expect more personal space. And understandably, victims of abuse need more space.
In social interactions, people should adjust to the demands of each other’s personal space. No matter how sincere your compliments are, it is the emotion you made them feel that they’ll remember. If you’re too far away, you’re aloof. If you’re too close, you’re overwhelming. Make sure you’re in the right ground to grant yourself a better impression.
It is hard to mentally calculate every person’s unique space requirements. We don’t know the history of our acquaintances either. But their behaviors will tell when we’re not at the optimal position. These signs include stepping forward or stepping back, clenching fists, covering the top lip, and leaning. Be aware of how they react.
What are your simple behaviors when people you’re interacting with are too far or too close?