I have my space and you have yours… And you never cross!!! Ever!!!
An important aspect of proxemics is the use of Personal territory. Let me briefly outline the four areas of personal territory; public, social, personal, and intimate, that we Americans intuitively respect and use.
- Public space ranges from 12 to 25 feet and is the distance maintained between the audience and a speaker such as the President.
- Social space ranges from 4 to 10 feet and is used for communication among business associates, as well as to separate strangers using public areas such as beaches and bus stops.
- Personal space ranges from 2 to 4 feet and is used among friends and family members, and to separate people waiting in lines at teller machines for example.
- Finally, intimate space ranges out to one foot and involves a high probability of touching. We reserve it for whispering and embracing.
General Rules of Personal Space:
- Never touch anyone you don’t know.
- Don’t reach for anyone’s children, regardless of your intentions.
- Stand at least 4 feet away from a person unless you know him or her well.
- When someone leans away from you, you are probably in that person’s space that makes him or her uncomfortable.
- If you walk into an auditorium or theater that isn’t crowded, leave an extra seat between you and the next person. However, it is acceptable to sit next to someone if the room is crowded.
- Never lean over someone else’s shoulder to read something unless invited.
- Never go through anyone else’s personal belongings.
- Don’t allow your dog to go to the bathroom on someone else’s property.
- Acknowledge personal space on the road. Don’t tailgate when driving.
- Don’t fling your arm around someone’s shoulder or slap anyone on the back unless you know the person very well.
- Don’t enter a room or office without knocking first.
- Don’t cut in front of people in line.