Patti was interviewed by Grandparents.com to get an expert’s advice on what body language cues mean.
Proxemics is all about that little bubble we like to call personal space, depending on how people position themselves in that bubble effects how we feel. Below is a generalisation on acceptable distances based on interaction, but its important to be aware that we are all individuals so all of our bubbles are different, and also different countries and cultures (you will know this if you have ever been to Hungary) have totally different concepts on what is acceptable in the personal space intrusion stakes.
So why is proxemics of any interest to you as a social engineer? Well when it comes to gaining physical access, looking to influence and / or manipulate someone this is really important. This is very much linked to your body language and other non verbal cues, but where you position yourself has an impact on how you are perceived, the position or structure you are trying to portray as well as territorial aspects you may be trying to convey with your physical positioning.
The social boundaries are what you would consider acceptable in a public / exhibition environment (not the local social club / pub). If you were waiting to meet someone, or speaking to a stranger to ask directions this is the typical personal space requirements that would be considered normal in most parts of the western world. Distances greater than the social boundary are more public spaces, like visiting a park, or museum, etc.
The personal boundary is the area I would imagine most people feel is invaded on a more regular basis. This area tends to be where we are happy for friends and close colleagues to venture into, and what we could consider a more ideal spacing if we are waiting for the bus. When people breach this boundary we can often feel threatened and looking to withdraw, or considering the option of standing our ground even though it may be an uncomfortable and stressful experience.
The intimate boundary is reserved for those we are most closest and trusting of, this is because at such a close range we are very vulnerable so trust is of paramount importance. A slight exception to this is when we are happy for us to whisper something we value to us, and for this we have happy to grant a temporary reprieve and allow that person in to share information, before getting the hell out.
As mentioned before, ethnicity and culture we will result in variances in this, but I quick bit of people watching will help establish a quick baseline of the cultural norm. You will of course experience the odd one out, who for variance reasons will keep a distance from you, or be all up in your face as part of their natural way of communicating, so even though it will feel awkward judge other non verbal cues to establish any possible intent before reacting. During our interactions people can possibly move through various boundaries depending on the social situation, intent of the interaction, the topic of discussion and even their gender.
So when you are next involved in an onsite engagement, and you are attempting to build rapport and influence individuals or groups be sure to give some thought to your proximity along with other verbal and non verbal cues we have discussed before.
Thanks for reading, and until next time happy hacking.
3 Secrets to Successful Team Presentations to High Level Executives
Yesterday, I was coaching a group of fantastically motivated, hardworking, immerging leaders at one of my pharmaceutical clients who were preparing for their team presentation to the big wigs of their organization. If you follow my blog, you know that the beginnings and endings of presentations can make or break your presentation. It is often the smallest behaviors that have the biggest impact on the outcome of your presentation. The team had already put in the work to create well thought out content for the body of their presentation. One of the things I suggested is that they get together after their presentation to celebrate their success. They just called me from their celebration. What worked for them at the beginning and close? Here is what they said:
• We formed a greeting line so that each executive shook our hands as they came in, we even had the executives that tried to come in the side door come in the main door to greet us. The executives loved it.
• We wowed them with our “Imagine” attention getter that allowed each of us to speak and express our passion for a high performance team.
• We were prepared for the tough questions. The practice yesterday creating and answering the questions “We hope the audience doesn’t ask” and the practice responding and tossing questions to fellow team members prepared us for the tough questions. During the presentation we were able to toss them easily to each other.
Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional – The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at http://PattiWood.net. Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.