Space Invaders: 2 Ways Bullies Invade Your Personal Space

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.

Girl sitting on the ground and drawing personal space. Selective focus

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.

too close personal space bullied victim

(Zone distances- “The Definitive Book of Body Language,” Allan and Barbara Pease – pp. 194-195; 2004)

1.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 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!

bullies dog peeing on tree marking territory

Male poodle dog pee on tree trunk to mark his territory

However, here are some less-obvious ways of space violations:

2. 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.

What is the Difference Between Assertiveness and Aggressiveness?

It amazes me how many people confuse the two. Many are under the false impression that bullies are assertive, when, in fact, they’re aggressive- too aggressive. So, how do we know the difference?

Here’s how:

1.Assertiveness is confident and respectful. It is never disrespectful, arrogant, or overbearing. When you’re being assertive, your state your case in a calm, cool, and confident manner, while, at the same time, being respectful of other’s different perspectives.

Aggressiveness is forceful and hostile. It’s abusive and it reeks of insecurity and unspoken fear of being ineffective and that the aggressor won’t succeed in getting what they want. When a person is being aggressive, they are dismissive, abusive, and threatening. They instill fear to get what they want because without the injection of fear, they’d be ineffective and irrelevant.

2. People who are assertive take time to listen. They listen to the other person before sharing a differing opinion.

People who are aggressive dominate conversations. These people only interrupt the other person and speak over them. They will even shout the other person down sometimes threatening harm to them if they don’t “shut up.” They will also undermine the other person’s ideas and belittle them with ad hominem (personal) attacks and name-calling.

3. When someone is too loud, an assertive person will ask the person to lower their voice so they can sleep, rest, enjoy a movie, hear their favorite song, etc.

An aggressive person, one the other hand, will demand that the other party “shut the hell up” and threaten physical violence if the person refuses to comply.

4. If an assertive person is in a McDonalds and gets fries that are cold and stale, they’ll explain the problem and ask for fries that are hot and fresh.

An aggressive person will only belittle the fast-food worker and demand hot fries with a threatening look. Some aggressive people might even climb over the counter and try to physically attack the person.

5. If an assertive person is asked for help, they will politely decline.

An aggressive person will shout a rude, “NO!” They will then berate the other person for having the audacity to ask for help.

You get the point.

Assertiveness is mindful and an assertive response is carefully thought out.

Aggressiveness is abusive and brutal.

The assertive person is confident, reasonable, and empathic. Whereas the aggressive person is unreasonable, self-serving, arrogant, loud, and highly opinionated.

Understand that being aggressive is unnecessary but being assertive is essential because if you aren’t assertive, people will only lose respect for you and use you as a doormat. That’s not good either.

You get so much more out of being assertive than you ever will being aggressive because being aggressive puts others on the defensive and will cause them to become resistant. But being assertive puts others at ease and makes them more likely want to fulfill your requests.

Bullies are aggressive.

Confident and healthy people are assertive.

So, be assertive but don’t be aggressive.

This is not to say that being assertive works one hundred percent of the time. There will be times you will run into self-entitled bullies, narcissists, and psychopaths who will rebuff assertiveness and even retaliate against you for your honesty. But most people will respect you for it.

Again, be assertive but never aggressive.

With knowledge comes empowerment!