Personal Space – Zones and Distances

Every culture, every country, every person has a different amount of personal space. In highly populated cities, you would expect a reduced amount of personal space. Conversely, people from the country or less densely populated areas prefer more personal space.

In the US, we value our personal space more than countries in Asia. During a conversation, an Asian person may continue advancing and at times, invade your personal space. This is because there is a disconnect in the amount of personal space in what is natural. If you continue to move away from the Asian person, they may find it rude that you’re being distant.

  1. Intimate Zone ranges from touching to about 18 inches (46 cm) apart, reserve for lovers, children, as well as close family members and friends, and also pet animals.
  2. Personal Zone begins about an arm’s length away; starting around 18 inches (46 cm) from the person and ending about 4 feet (122 cm) away. This space is used in conversations with friends, to chat with associates, and in group discussions.
  3. Social Zone ranges from 4 to 8 feet (1.2 m – 2.4 m) away from the person and is reserved for strangers, newly formed groups, and new acquaintances.
  4. Public Zone includes anything more than 8 feet (2.4 m) away, and is used for speeches, lectures, and theater. Public distance is essentially that range reserved for larger audiences.

When we find something or someone, non-threatening and non-invasive, we allow it or them to enter our intimate zones without a second thought. A dog or a cat will enter your intimate zones and sniff you. And you may be completely okay with it. A doctor examining you may enter your intimate zone. Additionally, drugs and alcohol effectively reduce the amount of personal space you require, especially in crowded bars and clubs.

In business, it is always important to assess the amount of personal space one is comfortable with so you don’t invade in their territory.

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