Elijah Mcclain

The Etiquette of Personal Space

There are a range of unwritten rules in regard to the distance people must maintain from one another in order to ensure a level of personal and professional comfort. Previously, Elijah Mcclain had spoken about how personal space essentially is represented by an imaginary circle around each person that tends to expand or contract in varying circumstances.  For instance, when talking to an acquaintance at the workplace people are likely to maintain a comfortable distance of 2 to 4 feet. However, at a packed concert, people are likely to tolerate sitting or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.

Here are a few general rules or etiquettes of personal space:

  • One should refrain from touching individuals they are not acquainted with.
  • It is advisable not to reach for someone’s children, irrespective of one’s intentions.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 4 feet from an individual unless there is a familiarity.
  • If someone leans away, it is likely that one is encroaching on their personal space, causing discomfort.
  • Upon entering an auditorium or theatre with ample seating, leaving an additional seat between oneself and others is recommended. However, in a crowded setting, sitting next to someone is acceptable.
  • Reading over someone else’s shoulder should only be done if invited; otherwise, it is considered inappropriate.
  • Respect others’ privacy by refraining from going through their personal belongings.
  • Recognize personal space on the road, and avoid tailgating when driving.
  • Prior to entering a room or office, it is courteous to knock first.

Good habits and etiquette in regard to personal space can help enhance the interactions of a person with others, while bad ones may create conflicts. 

Here are things one must keep in mind:

  • It is all about the relationship: The closer one is to another person, the nearer they can stand. Prior to reaching out to touch someone, it is vital to gauge how the touch will be received. A light pat on the pack can be intended as an extension of goodwill or an affectionate gesture. However, it can also be interpreted as an overly familiar gesture that seems condescending or invasive. Personal space is considered to be somewhere around 2 to 5 feet, while social space is five to ten feet and intimate space is two feet.
  • Hugs are situational: A warm hug is considered to be a thoughtful greeting among family and friends, but at times it can be unwelcome. One must know the other person well enough prior to reaching out and leaning forward. When it comes to a professional setting, a handshake would be a more appropriate gesture than a hug to convey warmth without infringing on another person’s space.
  • People’s culture and backgrounds shape their personal space needs: Personal space often varies by geographical location, country and culture. Hence, people must do their homework before visiting any new place and get familiar with their habits.

Previously, Elijah Mcclain had underlined that apart from respecting other’s personal space, people must also defend their own personal space. Whenever one finds someone intruding on their personal space, they can take a step back, out of the invasive boundary of the other person. Holding a beverage in front of can be another good way to keep someone at bay.

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