Proxemics

Hi, welcome to the section of the site that's dedicated to Proxemics.

"Pro…what?" you ask.

Don't worry, let me explain: Proxemics is the name of the study that explains how people treat their space and other people in their proximity. It's a subcategory of our nonverbal communication.

While this may sound obvious or irrelevant, did you ever think about how you move around others? How far do you stand from someone else when talking with him\her? Or why did you choose a certain seat and not some other?

It's not a random decision or happenstance; people have a certain, deeply integrated, subtle code when it comes to personal space and territory. While you don't actually measure the exact distance you keep from others with a roller, you somehow just know it's the right distance.

In this section of the site I will talk about the different aspects of Proxemics - from why it's important to 'how to' guides like choosing the right seat to your purpose.

Why It's Important

Because it's like playing bumper cars with others, only you can hit their personal space instead of actually bumping into them. And believe me it's almost as bad as that, perhaps even worse.

Understanding how to use your space and how others keep theirs is crucial in creating the right connections and leaving a good impression. Make a mistake here and you can gravely insult or annoy someone, and the worst part is that they probably won't even say anything.


proxemics

To find out why and how to do it right I've prepared this series of articles:

Personal Space Part  1 - Importance

Personal Space Part  2 – Factors 

Personal Space Part  3 - Application 

Different People Different Zones

I remember one time when I was at school, my teacher gave us an assignment to draw 3 circles – big, medium and small, one inside the other. In the most inner circle we were to write the names of the people that are closest to us: our family and best friends, in the middle circle our peers and acquaintances and in the outer circle strangers and people who we mistrust.

This exercise in social circles is actually very real and compliant with our physical world. The distance we keep from others is reflected by the same diagram that I drew when I was a child.

Professor Edward T Hall was a pioneer on the subject and he divided our personal space into several 'zones'. Let's have a deeper look into the science of proxemics, personal distance zones and their meaning.

Seating Arrangements

seating arrangements

Let's have a sit for one moment… "but where?" "Does it matter?"

Yes, it does. Like any bored student knows – you need to find the right seat to stay asleep during class undetected.It goes the same way in the rest of your life – where and the way you sit can turn a peaceful collaboration into a competitive debate.

Let's see what's the theory of Proxemics tells us about this and how it can help you choose the best seat for the right context.

Part 1 -  The Psychology Behind Seating Arrangements

Part 2Sitting Positions around the Table



Territoriality

proxemics - touch

As much as we think about ourselves as sophisticated and advanced, we still have a lot in common with other animals. One of these aspects is territoriality – while we don't pee to mark our borders, we do use other artificial means to signal others to stay away unless they're invited.

In this article I will explore the similarities and differences between us and other animals in terms of territoriality, and more importantly, why? Why are we being territorial and is it really necessary for us?

Further, we'll see that we divide our territories into types and treat each differently. How this behavior is expressed and why it's a bad idea to lean on other's people stuff, find out here:

Territoriality 



The Bottom Line

The study of proxemics is an integral part of non verbal communication. Therefore it's invaluable to us – people who study body language and its uses. Since we don't make gestures and expression in some vacuum separated from others it's important to understand how people treat their space and how that knowledge actually helps us in social encounters.

If there's one thing that I want you to remember from proxemics, and from whole all of this section is this – treat personal space as the property of other people – respect it – and you will gain their favor, invade it or stand too far - and you will automatically lose some "approval points".


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