Bullies are notorious for violating others’ personal space. They make it a point to get too close. I want you to understand that bullies do this deliberately to intimidate and challenge targets.
If you are a target of bullying, bullies will get in your face or stand too close behind you, sometimes so close their bodies are touching yours. Bullies purposefully crowd you to either intimidate you, challenge you or provoke you into a reaction. These violations are too blatant!
Different zone distances are practiced based on the relationship we have with the people in the room around us. They are as follows:
Intimate Zone – (6-18 inches) This distance between people is reserved for lovers, family, close friends, and pets. However, unwelcome bullies will move into your intimate zone when they’re feeling hostile toward you and are about to attack.
Anytime someone we don’t know, don’t trust or don’t like moves into this area, they are too close, and our minds and bodies automatically go into fight, flight or freeze mode. Some bullies may also invade the target’s intimate area only to toy with them and get them to react, then step back and laugh at the reaction. Do not ignore it! Call the bully out and let them know that they are in your personal space and that what they’re doing isn’t acceptable.
Personal Zone – (18-48 inches) We stand this far apart at parties and social gatherings. If bullies stand in the personal zone, they are still too close. Don’t be afraid to tell them in no uncertain terms to back the hell up!
Social Zone – (4-12 feet) These distances, we stand from strangers, clerks, and delivery people. Bullies will easily be able to get away with standing at these distances from their victims, so you might not want to react if you don’t want to look paranoid or unstable. But still, keep a close eye on your bully just in case they try to move closer!
Public Zone – (Over 12 feet) We stand at these distances when speaking publicly in front of an audience. Bullies can freely stand at these distances from their victims and not look conspicuous or threatening.
(Zone distances- “The Definitive Book of Body Language,” Allan and Barbara Pease – pp. 194-195; 2004
Sitting in your chair, leaning on your car, etc. – Any chair we sit in or any object we lean on or touch, we nonverbally lay claim to. Just as a dog will mark his territory by peeing on the spot he claims as his, people mark theirs by sitting, leaning, or touching the place or object they claim as theirs.
Other ways bullies invade their victim’s territory are leaning on their car or in the doorway of their office, dorm room, or house. Bullies may also prop their feet on the target’s desk or table or even walk into the victim’s home without knocking or being invited inside!
However, here are some less-obvious ways of space violations:
Invasion of your privacy – Bullies will very carefully observe you. They will eavesdrop on your conversations and listen for intimate details so they can take the private info and spread it as juicy gossip and make you look bad. They may also read your diary to find out your deepest, darkest secrets so they can spread it around and damage your reputation. They will even follow you to see where you go and who you associate with.
If you are a victim of bullying, understand that bullies do this on purpose. They invade your territory to intimidate, challenge, or dominate you.
You must protect not only your physical and mental health from bullies but also your personal space and territory. Never be afraid to call the bully out if they violate either one!
The more you know, the better you can protect yourself against these personal space invaders.