Saturday, April 14, 2012

M - Move Back, Dammit!

A complete disregard for personal space is something I’ve gotten used to living in France.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been bumped, pushed, or stepped on while waiting in line at the grocery store, post office, or bank.  People just don’t seem to have a problem standing on top of one another.

But at least, in those circumstances, a loud sigh and annoyed scowl can usually ward the person off…a few inches.

The problem is, this kind of ‘closeness’ can also be a habit of people I work with.  I have two (female) colleagues in particular who are always stepping reeeaaally close to me when they talk.

The first time this happened, I tried leaning/stepping back a foot or two but they just popped my invisible personal space bubble and slid right back in. 

I realized this is just the way they are (probably a habit formed from trying to converse in low voices about students who are getting on their nerves). I noticed a lot of teachers are always hunching really close to each other when they talk and there are students around.

But the American in me tenses every time they step in for conversation.  I tell myself  ‘Stay still, Katie. Just stay still. Their face will have to stop heading towards yours at some point. They need at least an inch of air to speak, right? ’.

Then I have trouble concentrating on what they’re saying with thoughts like:

 ‘Her face is taking up my entire field of vision.’

‘I can’t see anything but her face.’

‘ I don’t even look at my own face this close in the mirror.’

‘I bet I could totally apply my makeup using my reflection in her eyes,’  

I think if I were in America, I wouldn’t have a problem with telling someone to move back into their own zone. But here in France, I tend to try and be more tolerant – even if it drives me nuts.

What do you do when someone keeps popping your personal space bubble?

25 comments:

Annalisa Crawford said...

Hmm, that sounds awful. I once worked with someone like that, we'd end up dancing all the way around the office, as I moved back they'd follow. No easy answer. But it is hard to resist the inclination to move away.

Talli Roland said...

I had this problem in Poland. Not sure much the close-talking (did you ever see that Seinfeld episode?) but the pushing and elbowing in the supermarket and stuff. Argh! Used to drive me mental.

Talli Roland said...

Oops - not SO much! My fingers are disconnected from my brain today.

Jessica Bell said...

Ha! This is so funny. I think it might be a common European thing. They do that here too! :o) Um, I don't deal with it much though. I'm a bit of a loner. LOL :o) By CHOICE of course! <3

farawayeyes said...

Put my hands out in front of me. I really freak out when people are too close.

jaice john j said...

I am following you
Follow each other

Kimberlee Turley said...

If you told someone they had bad breath, would they keep their distance because of embarrassment?

Or maybe you can chew gum--real bubble gum--and blow a huge 8 inch bubble in their face.

DL Hammons said...

I think if I had this problem I'd stop showering and using deodorant for a week. That'll back'em up! :)

Tonja said...

I bet you'll get used to it.

mshatch said...

I think I'd always be taking a step back.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

That can be so uncomfortable. Pretend to sneeze or cough; that can usually give you a wide area around you - quickly.

moonwyndstudio said...

Thanks for the funny post! I did not know France had this problem also but I guess it stands to reason. Any country that is overcrowded has this problem. We have TONS of space in North America: Canada and the US so we have less of this problem. Happy writing and blogging, etc. Love MoonWynd
http://moonwyndstudio.wordpress.com/

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Yeah, the general space issue is probably at the heart of the cultural differences...I would be interested to know if personal space is realated to people per sq. mile in different countries.

Then again, I don't have this problem in the U.S. and I currently live in one of the most crowded places here...with many European immigrants and people who've lived here all their lives.


Sorry, I know none of this helps when someone is in your face like that, but it is a curious difference...thanks for sharing!

Tracy Makara said...

Oh that would drive me bonkers! I don't mind being close to someone but not so close that their breath could fog up my glasses!

Emily White said...

Oh, I would HATE that! I wouldn't even be able to concentrate.

Dana said...

When I was teaching at a college out in Nebraska, I had some Brazilian students who always stood too close when they talked to me. It was really unnerving when they were together. I'm short, and they were basketball-player tall, so I sometimes felt like I should fear for my life. LOL

Nicole Mc said...

Very interesting!! That would be really difficult...I'd be worrying about how large my pores were!! lol

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If I have to back all the way into the bathroom, I'm doing it!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

This totally cracked me up! I used to have a friend who did that to me. She'd actually hold onto my hip and pull me up against her when she wanted to talk to me. It always made me feel so weird! LOL!

Theresa Milstein said...

What was it called on Seinfeld, a close talker? I didn't notice the personal space issue when I visited Paris, but both trips were short. There are those people who step in too close. It's claustrophobic!

Mama J said...

Oh no. I hate it when people get too close and invade my space. Have you got a cattle rod handy?

Francene Stanley said...

Well. Every nationality has different characteristics. I remember when I stayed with my daughter in Paris, her boyfriend taught me to cross the road. You step out ahead of the approaching traffic with your chin up and a confident look on your face. Gulp!

http://francene-wordstitcher.blogspot.com

Deborah (Debs) Carr said...

I hate it when people move in so close that I can't even focus on them properly. It's strange how some people don't seem to have an idea of others' personal space.

Joshua Whitener said...

Have onions, breath heavily.

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm actually really quiet and non-confrontational in real life but this is one of the few things that will rile me up. On the rare occasions it has happened to me I have actually asked people to get out of my space, (nicely of course). I can't stand it.

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