The interpersonal space is the space that a person places between himself and others. It is a flexible space, not fixed, depending on culture and situation. The human body serves as a center.
Hall presents four types of interpersonal spaces:
The intimate space - in a very close relationship. Between 0 and 45 cm. When someone invades this space the feeling is very unpleasant to the point of aggression. Think of yourself in an elevator. I always try to look elsewhere or, better, at my phone
The personal space - in friendships for example.
The social space - when the relationship is impersonal. Between a coach and a client, a doctor and a patient, space at work.
The public space - over 3.5 meters. For example a speaker in front of an audience.
The interpersonal space is affected by the scene and changes according to the type of meeting.
The interpersonal space defines the relationship with the person standing in front of us, without the need of a verbal definition. When you know these cultural codes, communication flows.
In Belgium, for example, they kiss on the cheek. It is also quite common among colleagues. This is an entry to the intimate space. When I got here I didn't feel comfortable with this custom and I would reach out to set the boundaries. At the beginning I didn’t know who I should give a kiss and who I should shake hands with… a little embarrassing.
What customs in your country determine boundaries?
How do you create boundaries in the workplaces?