How to Respect Personal Space in Business Interactions

When meeting any customer or business contact, let that person set a comfortable personal space. If the person's tendency to move in close or stay removed physically doesn't correspond with your personal space preference, accept the fact that you’re not going to be operating in your comfort zone.

You can become more accustomed to different comfort zones by practicing this exercise:

  1. Stand about 6 feet away from your partner.

    Your partner should be someone you don’t know that well, and definitely not your spouse or anyone else you’re intimate with.

  2. Have your partner start walking toward you slowly.

  3. When you feel your partner getting uncomfortably close, ask him or her to stop.

    Note the approximate distance between your feet and your partner’s feet. This is your comfort zone.

  4. Ask your partner to take one more step forward, encroaching on your personal space.

    Note how uncomfortable this feels, and recognize that when you violate someone else's personal space, he or she feels the same discomfort.

  5. Hold your ground while talking with your partner, resisting the urge to move away.

    Make sure you also don't lean away or look uncomfortable.

  6. Have your partner take two steps backward and continue conversation.

    Remember to hold your ground, no matter how anxious your feet are to move closer.

Invading a customer’s personal space almost guarantees they won’t feel comfortable with you. Standing too far away is a lesser offense, but it still won’t put them in the mood to buy. Pay attention to your customer's queue's for face-to-face interaction.

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