In last two articles, we have seen that how clustering and congruence are crucial for reading body language. Now let's we move towards understanding the importance of interpersonal distance. The science of interpersonal distance is called as PROXEMICS. Most of us don’t realize that interpersonal distance really affects on communication and relationship. So let's take a example from real life so it clearly makes sense.
It's an usual day in company and you start routine work. Suddenly, team leader informs that some newly recruited members are joining your team. You are asked to gather at some place for introduction with them face-to-face. Until this moment both parties might not have seen each other so little amount of nervousness coupled with excitement lurks inside everyone's mind. While looking at each other, both parties smile nervously and avoid prolong eye contact. Formal hand shake, exchanging few words and mutual introduction takes place at a safe distance from each other.
At the beginning, getting face-to-face is filled with anxiety. Glancing at either side, looking down, hovering gaze, putting hands in pocket, giving nervous look - smile, grabbing things in palms, moving torso away or crossing arms over chest can be observed being unconsciously done by both parties. New joiners form their own group. They don't come close or interact voluntarily like seniors or experienced colleague. Accidental touch is regretted.
Some days pass and regular interactions take place between you and new joiners. Apart of work, everybody shares and complement with each other. It gives opportunity for judging and knowing each other consciously or unconsciously. We naturally tend to figure out mutual strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Also, it's not necessary that every member of team become close companion of other. Some personal reservations, threats or complexes motivate us to form bod with more like minded persons.
Initial awkwardness, shyness and disorientation slowly fades. Interactions happen at close distance as compared to earlier days. Touching, seating closer, whispering, handling person stuff or prolonging eye contact becomes normal. Everybody starts looking at each others faces. Strong rapport establishes by time. Meeting and greeting each other brings excitement and freshness at workspace.
It seems like a magic - gradual shrinking of interpersonal space and development of new relationship. Why we tend to stay away from new people in the beginning and get closer gradually (or drift away) ? Certainly, it's worth interesting to know.
Interpersonal space or distance is crucial factor for judging how a person or object is favorable to our interest. It's the survival mechanism of subconscious mind of gathering visual clues and letting us to decide whether to move towards it, let it to move towards you or step back and run away from it. When space required to watch (hear and smell also) and decide the strategy is invaded or trespassed without unknown intentions, we feel very uncomfortable or stressed. Limbic system starts sending flight or fight signals to body.
Dr. Albert Meharabian, the leading proxemist has defined four different zones around our body. Each zone is a circular area in which we let other to enter or stay depending upon kind of relationship we want with them.
|Different zones of proxemics (Interpersonal Distance)|
1) Intimate Zone (from 6 to 18 inches): This is the zone a person guards as individual property. Only romantic partner, close friends and relatives are allowed to enter in it.
2) Personal Zone (from 18 to 48 inches): This is the distance we keep from others during friendly interactions, social gatherings or parties.
3) Public Zone (from 4 to 12 feet): This is the distance we keep from strangers or persons with little acquaintance.
4) Social Zone (above 12 feet): This is the comfortable distance we maintain while interacting or addressing to large group of people.
Above are approximate distances with which Dr. Meharabian put up his theory but radius of each zone may vary culture, society or geography wise.
1) Courtship and Dance 2) Cabin of chief 3) Making true friends 4) Positive Body Language 5) Secret of Metropolitan nervousness 6) Elevator Etiquettes 7) Context 8) Clusters 9) Congruence 10) Context 11) Micro Expressions 12) Para Language 13) Common Postures 14) Common Hand Gestures 15) Inside Interrogation Room