Too Close for Comfort-Proximity
By: Amanda Castillo
Does it annoy you when someone gets in your personal space? How about when you’re at an ATM and the guy behind you does not give you enough privacy to look at your checking account? Seinfeld, the television show had ran for almost a decade-making fun of various scenarios that people encountered in their own real lives. From the low talker to the close talker Seinfeld over exaggerated certain situations on his show. This episode of the close talker is of how people would act when put in the scenario of the closer talker. I still enjoy the Seinfeld re-runs and when I saw the episode of the closer talker, I could not stop laughing. The “closer talker” episode is about Elaine’s boyfriend who is an extremely over the top close talker, Elaine and her boyfriend make a visit to Jerry’s apartment. During this time Jerry’s parents are in town visiting Jerry and trying to figure out where to go that day when the “closer talk” starts recommending certain places to visit as he speaks to Jerry’s mom, he is right in her person space. You can tell by her body language that she is very uncomfortable as she backs away but is interested in his recommendations. So as she is communicating more with him he just keeps getting closer and closer to invading her personal bubble.
This is also called proxemics, “When there is space between people, the amount of space and the degree to which space is connected to one’s territory have implications for the interactions at hand. Just as people need touch to feel close and connected, so too do people need space to maintain privacy and personal space,” (Burgoon, Judee p.159). Proximity is a big deal when it comes to giving people territorial space or invading the space. For this episode of the “close talker,” this would be considered body territory. According to Judee Burgoon, body territory encompasses a person’s physical body as well as the personal space bubble that surrounds it (p.164). There is a known area that people who socialize in the world should have a common understanding when it comes to personal space and proximity of body territory. This goes back to being in line at a store. One should not be too close to someone cause that may make him or her uncomfortable and this is a social norm that should be understood.
During the “closer talker” episode it clearly contradicts proximity of personal space. As I said at the beginning Seinfeld clearly is over exaggerating the fact that Elaine’s boyfriend does not know how to give someone personal space. He is not using his nonverbal skills and reading that he is clearly making people uncomfortable by invading their space. So this is a great example of how not to be when talking to others or just simply standing by another individual. According to Judee Bergoon, “giving someone enough space to perform a double axel at the skating rink is a good example of how much space to give someone in front or behind you in a line (p. 164).
Burgoon, Judee. K., Guerrero, Laura. K., Floyd, Kory. (2010) Nonverbal Communication
New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.