Personal space is a tricky thing because what some people are comfortable with, others aren’t. What individual A is comfortable with, say a hug, will make individual B incredibly uncomfortable. Then how do you know what your limits are with different people?
The best way is to assume that everyone has personal space issues where they don’t like physical contact and prefer to build a wall around them. This means that they won’t be comfortable with you holding their hand, using their phone without permission or going through their belongings without their knowledge. Then as you get to know each person, you’ll also understand what each person is comfortable with.
However, knowing this isn’t enough. You need to put it into practice. If you have seen someone flinch when there’s physical contact between him and another, don’t force that person into a handshake or hug. You might be the kind of person who hugs others a lot but you need to respect what other people are comfortable with.
Some of you may wonder what’s so wrong with a hug. For some, hugging can only be done with family and close friends.
Sometimes even that is too difficult. It’s not just that one doesn’t want to hug or be hugged, but that their body rejects the feeling.
The first step to respecting personal space is to understand possession or ownership. An invasion of personal space is felt because humans consider the air around them to be their space.
Thus when someone is breaking into that area, emergency alarms start ringing in their minds. The same applies to objects and belongings. While many would think a desk in school or computer at office belongs to the institution or company, if that place has been assigned to an individual, that individual would consider that desk or computer to be their own. This isn’t to an extent where they will walk away with that desk or computer but where they wouldn’t want another to use it without their permission or knowledge.
While they don’t actually own the desk or computer, they wouldn’t be pleased if someone else uses their place, especially without their permission or knowledge. There may have been instances when you walked to your table in office and just felt that someone else had been there. You know your pens, pencils and maybe even mug, have been used and while you may not have an issue with them being used, you may feel annoyed and uncomfortable by the fact that you don’t know who used them.
It may seem like a trivial matter but to many, it’s a violation of one’s privacy and an invasion of personal space. It’s not about how friendly you are with people and how you can’t expect people to not things you leave lying around. This is the basic argument behind using another’s Facebook profile.
If you have logged into your Facebook account on a friend’s computer, you’ll most probably have them post funny or embarrassing pictures and status updates. Most people laugh it off. It may be done for fun, but it is still an invasion of personal space and it is still a violation of privacy.
The next time you get too close to a person or use their belongings without asking them, remember that you need to respect their wishes and limits, and that you mustn’t invade another’s personal space.