Body language: Distance in the team

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Text comes from: Die Macht der versteckten Signale: Wortwahl - Körpersprache - Emotionen. Nonverbale Widerstände erkennen und überwinden (2014) from Dr. Gabriele Cerwinka, Gabriele Schranz, published by Linde Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Depending on the situation, we are asking for a certain space around us, into which the interlocutor should not interfere. The invisible distance zone should be preserved in every conversation situation.


Here writes for you:


Dr. Gabriele Cerwinka cerwinkaDr. Gabriele Cerwinka is a shareholder of Schranz and Cerwinka OEG.


From the author:




Here writes for you:


Gabriele Schranz SchranzGabriele Schranz is a shareholder of Schranz and Cerwinka OEG; Vienna - Zurich.


Avoid the glances

We try to push the other away from us by denying him direct eye contact. Even if we continue to talk to him, our gaze suddenly turns past him far into the distance.

A behavior that the other unconsciously understands correctly, no dentist would feel offended. Whoever, in situations of forced closeness, directs the view further rigidly into the eyes of the other, violates these laws of proximity and distance, he begins a power game, he speaks out an open threat.

What is acting aggressively?

It is not always the physical proximity, which is too great, which is perceived as aggressive; it is the behavior of how the individual participants react to it.

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The fact that the situation of "undue proximity" is forced or could be avoided also plays an important role. If the elevator is really full, I cannot keep my distance. If there are only two of us in the lift, things are different.

Public distance

And is it really necessary that the colleague always sits on my armrest and obviously only finds the information I need in my computer?

Everything that is more than two meters away from us we call “public distance”. This includes speakers, actors, teachers and similar “public figures”.

Tangible discomfort

We find it unpleasant when the actor suddenly jumps off the stage and tries to get us into the play. Or when the speaker in the hall suddenly suddenly stands in front of us and speaks directly. Who is already in the first row sitting in the school, in the direct shot of the teacher?

The signals that we send out when one of our distance zones has been crossed are usually very clear. The discomfort is tangible.

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Whom do we let close to us?

How we set this invisible border depends first and foremost on the role of our counterpart. Close to us, we usually leave our partner and closest family.

We do not just listen to their words, we want to feel them with all our senses. Skin contact and smell are very important. The success of communication also depends on this proximity.

A child who never feels the love of the parents will also find it difficult to talk to them. Partners who no longer allow physical closeness withdraw the common basis. In this “intimate distance zone”, the deprivation of proximity acts as a barrier.

Personal distance zones

Our “personal distance zone” begins about an arm's length away from us, i.e. around 60 centimeters, and extends to 1,50 meters. Friends and people who we like to have around us fit in this room, but we still don't want to keep them close.

We like to communicate through words, looks or even through Spiegeln the posture. The common wavelength is there, even without constant skin contact.

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Close to friends

Too great proximity can also act like an invisible barrier with good friends - the balance of relationships is disturbed. These zones around us, however, are not all around the same size:

The values ​​given refer primarily to our front, our open, "vulnerable" body front. We also let others get closer to our lateral “bone front”, since we are better protected anyway.

Closeness and distance in friendships

So it is quite normal to get a good friend's arm. However, pressing them continually to the front during the conversation would be quite cramped.

Especially in friendships this game with proximity and distance is a very delicate, often underestimated. There are situations that require physical proximity, for example when we donate the best friend consolation.

"It was getting too tight for me"

Due to a sudden emotional exceptional situation, the limits are lifted. We allow the other to penetrate, we almost demand it. In other situations, such an intrusion - even the best friend - may be restrictive.

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But because it is the best friend, we do not allow this slight discomfort and suppress it. At some point we then analyze why friendship is no longer what it was, and it is not uncommon to hear sentences like: "It was getting too tight for me, the other was really clinging to me!" Even if we're in the broadcast Sense mean.

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