Each person has their own personal portable air bubble we consider as our personal space. Children learn this “spacing” by age 12 and can be broken down into four zone/spacing distances.
- Intimate zone. Between 6 and 18 inches. Reserved for lovers, parents, spouse, children, close friends, relatives and pets.
- Personal zone. Between 18 inches and 48 inches. Applied to the office, parties, social functions and friendly gatherings.
- Social zone. Between 4 feet and 12 feet. Stand at this distance from strangers, new people at work, people we don’t know very well.
- Public zone. Over 12 feet. Whenever we address a large group of people, this is the comfortable distance at which we choose to stand.
Personal Space Applications for Advisors
- If you want people to feel comfortable around you the golden rule is to keep in the right zone. The closer your relationship becomes the more you will be permitted to move within their zones.
- Invading someone’s intimate zone can actually cause physiological changes in a person. For example, putting your arm in a friendly way around someone you have just met may result in that person feeling negative towards you even though they may smile in order not to offend you.
- Zone intrusion can also cause the happy-go-lucky person who slaps every person he meets on the back or continually touches people during a conversation, to be secretly disliked by many.
- The closer people feel emotionally to each other the closer they will stand to each other.
- Personal space zones are effected by gender, age, and the population density of where people live. Women stand closer to other women then men do to men. People raised in rural areas typically need more personal space than those who grew up in heavily populated areas.
- Rural people tend to stand with their feet firmly planted and lean forward to meet your handshake, whereas a city dweller will typically step forward to greet you.
- New clients and co-workers may invite you or reject you depending on the respect you have for their personal space.
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