The concept of interaction zones is used to illustrate individuals’ preferred zones of physical closeness during communication and interactions. Commonly defined as:
- Public space: 7 or more feet (where you want your grocery cart, space between you and the next one in the bathroom stall, an empty seat next to you in the theater)
- Social: 3-6 feet (you’re part of a group but you don’t have to yell to be heard, you’re part of the inner circle)
- Personal: 1-2 feet, for more private conversations, closer interactions
- Intimate: 0-1 foot (not for business conversations)
Research indicates that group performance is enhanced at closer, face-to-face distances of approximately 18 inches. However, it’s important to note that this is too close for comfort for some individuals. Generally speaking, men tend to prefer greater distances in communication than women are comfortable with.
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