Friday, November 04, 2005

When a Leader Becomes a Space Invader

Leaders often come into close proximity with other people. Our cultural norms dictate what a comfortable distance is when interacting with another person. So, how do you know when you are invading another's personal space? Leaders should know what signs to look for that another person is uncomfortable and then take immediate steps to alleviate this discomfort.

Signals that you may have invaded an individuals personal space are:
  • Rocking
  • Leg swinging
  • Tapping
  • Gaze aversion

In large groups invading personal space is typically not a problem, in fact there is usually too much distance between you and others. To counteract this you would simply need to move about the room or closer to the individual you wish to communicate with. However, remember that increasing proximity also enables you to make better eye contact with the entire group and increases the opportunities for others to speak besides one single individual.

As a leader you need to be aware of the differences personal space and presence may have on your interactions with others. Be considerate of the other person when you are communicating one-on-one and observant of any of the signals that you may be too close in proximity. By respecting another's personal space you will show respect for that individual and will likely see that person respond in a more positive manner to your needs or request.

Copyright M. A. Webb, 2005. All Rights Reserved

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