Have you ever encountered a close talker and wondered why it makes you feel uncomfortable? Well there is a valid reason as explained by Edward T. Hall’s personal reaction bubbles and his research on this topic. I came across this bubble a few years ago and it shed light on the appropriate physical distance to hold when communicating in various scenarios. Why is this important? Understanding the appropriate “physical” distance helps you to build trust and rapport with your respective audiences.
Public distance – 12 to 25 feet
Communication examples of this type of distance are often used in speaking situations such as a classroom or giving a presentation in the workplace.
Social distance – 4 to 12 feet
Social distance is associated with the appropriate physical distance between acquaintances. Acquaintances can include co-workers, client or prospect interactions, etc. The lower end of the range applies to those acquaintances you see more frequently and wouldn’t be considered “awkward” if you kept this distance while interacting.
Personal distance – 1.5 to 4 feet
This distance is reserved for those individuals that you have a close relationship with such as family members or dear friends.
Intimate distance – 6 to 18 inches
As indicated by the word “intimate” this level of physical distance indicates a closer relationship between individuals. Interactions for this distance can include whispering, hugging or kissing.
Based on the above distances, can you see why it’s important to communicate within the confines of the appropriate physical distance? Have you ever encountered a violation of personal space? How did it make you feel? Tell us your story!