Every human has a space around their body that is sacred as their own territory. This is called “personal space” or “bubble” that varies for individuals and circumstances. We each have our own unwritten rules about how big our personal space is, who may enter our personal space, and how close others may approach. Dominant animals and humans demand more space than the less dominant. How we guard and defend our personal space and how we approach or invade another person’s space, is very revealing about our relationships, status, rank and dominance as we perceive it.
In a landmark research on study of ethics of distance on body language; anthropologist Edward T. hall identified four body space zone; Intimate zone, Personal zone, Social zone and Public zone.
Every zone reflects a bubble (a preferred distance for different encounters) we create around us when we communicate with different sets of people. And by manipulating these zones you deepen the strength of your relationship or on the flip side can increase the intensity of enmity.
- Intimate zone: 8 to 18 inches: This distance is reserved for activities including making love, embracing, comforting and protection. Apart from that we give special permission to Doctors, dentist to intrude. At this distance the vision is less important since its distorted and hence smell and touch are the source of information.
- Personal zone: 18 to 48 inches: Close friends can enter this bubble without invoking discomfort. At this distanced feature no more look distorted and vision plays a role.
- Social zone: 4 – 12 feet: This zone is reserved for meeting strangers and for impersonal meetings. Teachers operate at this distance with group of students
- Public zone: 12 feet plus: This bubble is for dealing with strangers. This distance is sufficiently big enough to take evasive action if threatened.
Our success depends to a great level on understanding bubble or zone. And there are numerous studies and research available on the net. With sound knowledge of the four zones you can influence decisions or create bonds. But also take into account the cultural difference as well. Study them, practice them and progress on the road to pinnacle.