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Figure 4.1 “Proxemic Zonesof Personal Space”. Even within a particular zone, interactions may differ depending on whether someone is inthe outer or inner part of the zone.Figure 4.1 Proxemic Zones of Personal SpacePublic Space (12 Feet or More)Public and social zones refer to the space four or more feet away from our body, and the communication thattypically occurs in these zones is formal and not intimate. Public space starts about twelve feet from a personand extends out from there. This is the least personal of the four zones and would typically be used when aperson is engaging in a formal speech and is removed from the audience to allow the audience to see or when ahigh-profile or powerful person like a celebrity or executive maintains such a distance as a sign of power or forsafety and security reasons. In terms of regular interaction, we are often not obligated or expected toacknowledge or interact with people who enter our public zone. It would be difficult to have a deep conversationwith someone at this level because you have to speak louder and don’t have the physical closeness that is oftenneeded to promote emotional closeness and/or establish rapport.Social Space (4–12 Feet)Communication that occurs in the social zone, which is four to twelve feet away from our body, is typically inthe context of a professional or casual interaction, but not intimate or public. This distance is preferred in manyprofessional settings because it reduces the suspicion of any impropriety. The expression “keep someone at an
2/11/20184.2 Types of Nonverbal Communication | Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies12/21arm’s length” means that someone is kept out of the personal space and kept in the social/professional space. Iftwo people held up their arms and stood so just the tips of their fingers were touching, they would be aroundfour feet away from each other, which is perceived as a safe distance because the possibility for intentional orunintentional touching doesn’t exist. It is also possible to have people in the outer portion of our social zone butnot feel obligated to interact with them, but when people come much closer than six feet to us then we often feelobligated to at least acknowledge their presence. In many typically sized classrooms, much of your audience fora speech will actually be in your social zone rather than your public zone, which is actually beneficial because ithelps you establish a better connection with them. Students in large lecture classes should consider sitting withinthe social zone of the professor, since students who sit within this zone are more likely to be remembered by theprofessor, be acknowledged in class, and retain more information because they are close enough to take inimportant nonverbal and visual cues. Students who talk to me after class typically stand about four to five feet