Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Personal Space

Edward Hall was one of the first people to define and characterize the space around us – our different level of spaces. The outermost space around us is our public space such as in a large room. Coming in closer is our social space such as talking with a group of friends. The next inward space is our personal space which is usually within arms’ reach of us. This space is usually on reserve for "invitation-only" meaning we do not like people to be in our personal space unless we initiate it and welcome them over. 

In social situations, this can be a hard thing to maintain. The key is to refrain from being rude to someone who may have encroached on your space. If this person is too close, take a few steps to the side instead of backwards which creates subtle distance and doesn’t appear as though you are backing away. If you must leave a group of people or even just one that are too close, always excuse yourself politely and move to an open area. If possible, take a few steps around the room every so often which keeps you mobile and doesn’t allow for crowding. Remember, this is the time to be adaptable, so you may need to be flexible with your surroundings to feel more at ease.

Tips for keeping your personal space personal:

• Excuse yourself politely when leaving a group.

• Step to the side a step or two to create subtle distance.

• Walk often or roam about the area, if possible.

• Opt for a handshake when greeting people; it allows for the other person to stay at arm’s length.

• Be aware of cultural differences in personal space.

Until next time ...

Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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