What is Personal Space? – (with Infographics)

What is Personal Space

How do you feel when a stranger comes too close to you? As common human nurture, we desire some space around us, don’t feel comfortable with a stranger coming too close or touch our body parts awkwardly. This is the reason having a clear understanding about ‘What is Personal Space?’ is an essential part of effective nonverbal communication.

Personal Space is the amount of space or distance we desire or require as our belonging and we don’t want everyone to invade it.

Some factors that determine the personal space are:

  • Countries
  • Social culture
  • Professional work area
  • Location like urban or rural
  • Situation
  • Extent of familiarity or relation
  • Personal characteristics 

The levels of personal space or  distance required for comfortability in approx are:

  • For couples 0 to 20 inches
  • For friends and family 1 feet to 3 feet
  • Colleagues or people in the workplace must maintain 3 feet to 10 feet of distance
  • For strangers or unfamiliar people more than 4 feet of distance


  1. What is personal space mean
  2. What is personal space in communication
  3. What is personal space in nonverbal communication
  4. What is personal space distance
  5. What is personal space in relationship
  6. What is personal space in psychology
  7. Why is personal space important
  8. Personal space examples
  9. What is personal space in health and social care
  10. What is personal space in dance
  11. What is personal space at workplace
  12. Practices to follow when others invade your personal space
  13. Final Thought on ‘ What is Personal Space?’

1. What is personal space mean

Every person wants a certain amount of space around them to make distance from others especially in offices, business places or during travel,  which makes them feel free and comfortable, this space is referred as personal space. 

Suppose you are travelling in a bus and other people are coming too close to you or touching you, this will cause disturbances in you as you will feel uncomfortable, why this happens, this happens because another person or a stranger has just invaded your personal space. 

We desire other people to maintain a certain distance from us, now this desire of amount of space for yourself can differ according to the culture you brought up in or the region you are from. 

Again this desire of space is also changeable according to the familiarity or relationship. 

Husband and wife do not expect any space to be maintained between them. They can feel comfortable by being too close to each other. The same thing happens with lovers or boyfriend and girlfriend, they do not desire space rather in both  scenarios one desires to be close to each other. 

Now lets see another example, being too close to others or when others get too close to you in the workplace produces an uncomfortable feeling. We desire a certain distance to be maintained from each other in a professional place. 

Again when we travel with a stranger, we desire more space even than the workplace. 

What is observed is that the level of space is desired according to familiarity.

2. What is personal space in communication

We all communicate almost everyday with some people. Human civilization thrives and prosper through communication. Development of a civilization can only occur through clear and quality communication. 

Communication consists of many components such as speaking, writing, visualizing,  listening etc. But all these can be effective enough only when appropriate space is maintained among people. 

You may deliver very important messages but if you are too far or too close to others then it produces unsuccessful communication, where the audience feels uncomfortable in listening to you. 

This is the reason maintaining appropriate personal space is considered a pillar parameter in communication.

3. What is personal space in nonverbal communication

 personal space is considered as an integral part of nonverbal communication. Let us understand this  through an example.

 suppose you are in a meeting in your workplace,  you are delivering some important thoughts and ideas, it may be so essential and interesting to others but if you fail to respect others personal space  by  invading it and getting  too close to  others,  you must know that you simply made a mess.

Every person loves their own personal space and wants others to respect it, and mention appropriate distance.

4. What is personal space distance

Personal space distance is a certain amount of distance that we want others to maintain from us,  and we must maintain that from others as well. 

People from diverse cultures carry different sorts of expectations in maintenance the level of  distance from others. 

This desire for distance also varies from the people of rural areas to big cities. It also changes according to the countries. 

In most cases, people with a higher standard of living expect more distance from others, they  even get ready to pay more and travel separately for the sake of maintaining distance.

5. What is personal space in relationship

Level of relationship defines the level of personal space. Most of us get too close to people who are only our friends and close relatives. 

The relation is farther, more of the space we require from each other. 

6. What is personal space in psychology

Every person psychologically regards a certain space surrounding them as their own. People feel comfortable  and relaxed being in this kind of space. When someone else encroaches on this personal space, most people get irritated, angry and feel discomfort. 

This psychology of personal space is clearly visible in people’s attitude in crowded or densely populated places. Most people feel disturbed in the less spacious place. 

7. Why is personal space important

Personal space is an integral part of nonverbal communication and in order to establish an effective communication with others, you must be excellent in nonverbal communication.

Here are some of the reason why personal space is important:

  • Personal space makes us feel good and comfortable.
  • It helps us to feel relaxed.
  • Personal space also protects our self-esteem.
  • Feeling of security is another reason for personal space.
  • Personal space expresses mannerly attitude.

8. Personal space examples

While we get too close to an unfamiliar person, it produces a feeling of insecurity and discomfort to the person you are getting close to.

Every culture and workplace maintain some sort of personal space, being aware of that behaving accordingly makes you comfortable to others, as a result better nonverbal communication is established. 

Here are some of the examples of Personal space examples:

  • Control your hand by not touching any stranger.
  • When you sit among the people, keep the most possible distance (personal space) from others.
  • Do not attempt to reach other kids, unless the matter is serious. 
  • Maintain a distance of 4 feet from the people unfamiliar to you.
  • When someone comes too close to you without intention, you must step back.
  • If the meeting room is spacious then maintain most possible distance from other people.
  • Never lean on other’s tables or work areas.
  • Keep your hands in control by keeping it away from other’s properties.
  • Maintain a quality personal space while travelling or in the workplace.

9. What is personal space in health and social care

If you are working in health and social care, in this case you must maintain personal care from people at any cost.

Some of reason of keeping personal space in health and social care are:

  • You need to communicate with different types of people from different cultures.
  • People of different social structures may require different levels of personal space.
  • Getting too close to an infected person can cause you to be infected.

10. What is personal space in dance

One of the most important elements of dance is personal space. A dancer uses a certain area of space to display the art, moreover the space is almost essential for the best performance. 

There is a certain level of distance that must be maintained between the dancers in a group dance in order to present the dance in the most effective manner.

11. What is personal space at workplace

While you are at your workplace, your behaviour towards another person’s personal space reflects your professionalism. 

Maintain the best personal space practices at workplace:

  • Respect another person’s personal space, so never invade that.
  • Know the rules and regulation of the workplace.
  • Understand the culture of that place.
  • Behave according to the social system.
  • Take permission before getting too close to others.

12. Practices to follow when others invade your personal space

You may face that someone is invading your personal space, in that case you must follow some good practices:

  • Be humble and tolerant.
  • Step back or move back to let the other person understand that you are feeling uncomfortable.
  • Tell that you are feeling uncomfortable in being too close.

Final Thought on ‘ What is Personal Space?’

  • Personal space is a space or distance maintained between people in a social life, family and professional work area, in order to feel comfortable and relaxed. 
  • Some factors that determine the personal space are: Social culture, Location like urban or rural, Situation, Extent of familiarity or relation, Personal characteristics, work environment and countries.
  • The levels of personal space or  distance required for comfortability differ according to the familiarity and people group, whereas for couples it is the least and for the large group of people it is the most. 

It is very important that you teach about personal space to your children from a very early age.  Teach them the followings:

  • Teach them to respect another person’s personal space.
  • Impart a picture that there is a bubble around every individual and we must never try to enter another’s bubble. 
  • Tell them to be sensitive about bad touch and inform you as soon as possible. 

Remember the personal space is an essential part of nonverbal communication, so maintaining personal space allows you to make a quality verbal communication during the time of interview and meeting, which will bring direct affect on your career. 

Your behaviour towards another’s personal space also creates a tremendous effect on your friends and family.

So respect another’s personal space and be respected by others.  

Let me know your suggestion in the comment section below for adding more life to this article for growing together and helping other to grow.

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