Safe space or personal space or space bubble is the distance one needs to maintain while accosting a person without intimidating him. Safe space is the space that a person is entitled to around him or her and which no one should intrude into. It is all about maintaining a proper distance with a person. Safe space is specific to every country and can vary from culture to culture.
Personal space varies with culture as well. A person who has been brought up in a densely populated area, like Bangladesh, may have a narrower personal space as compared to a person who has been brought up in a sparsely populated area, like Norway. Personal space is like a layer all around us that extends to a particular distance from the body and that no one should enter it. If some stranger intrudes into our personal space, we become infuriated.
Now, there are three types of spaces around an individual. The kinds of spaces are classified as follows.
Intimate space varies from 6 inches to 18 inches. This is kind of a person’s own territory or own property which no one must enter into. Only a handful of people, like the parents, lovers, close friends, or pets are allowed to enter.
The personal space can extend from 18 inches to 48 inches. This is the distance at which the other friends – the not-so-intimate ones – and colleagues need to stand at during functions, parties, and ceremonies.
The social space extends from 4 feet to 12 feet from a person. This is the area in which all the strangers like sales person, carpenter, pizza boy, etc. need to stand. Anyone who is a new acquaintance needs to stand in this space.
The public space extends from beyond the 12 feet. This is the distance at which all those people must stand, who don’t have business with us. During public speaking, this is the distance at which the public or the audience must be placed.
The above classification does not intend to discourage hair dressers, doctors, or body examiners to stand aside. These non-threatening people will have to enter our intimate space and we will have to allow them as well. However, whenever you are talking to another person, you need to assess the level of intimacy you have with the other person and then decide how close you should get.