Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Close is Too Close?

Having just returned from five weeks of travel with what seemed like endless hours spent standing in lines (airports, taxi lines, entrances to museums and more)  I’ve had lots of experience with the shape and space of lines.  I hadn’t thought much of it until I read Lisa Condle’s post about living in Italy and comments about Personal Space.

I suddenly had a vision of the lines I’d spent time in.  Not the nice long neat, one-by-one, at least 12 inches apart lines you’d find in a bank in Los Angeles.  Rather a floating, changing straggle of people generally headed in the same direction almost touching each other that I recently experienced.  Too many people, too close.  Where’s my place, your place?   

How we define the appropriate space, the personal bubble that we want around us isn’t something we often consider until someone gets too close or is too far away.   A bother we might think but it’s more than that.  It’s an essential component of how we communicate.

Edward T. Hall, the cultural anthropologist was one of the first to study and write about this area formally called Poxemics.  He identified personal space as a form of non-verbal communication.  For a more in depth look at the topic, based on Mr. Hall’s work, read through Martin Tolley’s article “The Psychology of Personal Space.”

The next time you're standing in line take a minute and as yourself.   How does you feel?  

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