Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tip of the Day: Adapting to Personal Space, a Learned Skill

If you're like most of us, depending upon what region or country in the world from where you hail as a native, your comfort level in terms of the spatial distance may indeed be easy to adapt to...or it may present challenges.

I once worked directly for a retired three-star Marine general in my own culture who had a very strange personal space comfort level when it came to having visitors.

First of all, I really must given you an idea of how the "General's" interior office was actually laid out. 

My estimate was that the "general's" interior office had to have encompassed at least 800 square feet (or 243.8 meters). 

The first time I had the opportunity to meet him, I was escorted into his office by his secretary and seated some thirty feet away from his desk as he pondered whether he was going to accord me the privilege of working for him.

COMMENT: As most of you may suspect, this was not a distance I was particularly comfortable with. In fact, I found it intrinsically painful.

The position I was applying for was director of security of the US Agency for International Development. 

Management-wise, perhaps because I had lived in Latin America so long, when my personal space comfort level  was a distance of only five to eight feet.

I eventually became the General's director of security, but I never fully adapted to his preferred personal space between two people.

The lesson-learned from my first meeting with the General is that it he strategically had folks placed in his office in such a way that the end-result was that they were placed in "short-pants," which was to subliminally intimidate them.

In all likelihood, the reason that the General probably hired me was because I, too, was a former Marine, albeit not nearly as rank-conscious as was the good general.

Over the 20+ years that have passed since those days in the mid-1980s, largely because of my curious observations of the General's Machiavellian traits, which bring back memories of THE PRINCE, authored by Niccoló Machiavelli in 1513, using a Latin title penned in the name of "De Principatibus."

For those unfamiliar with Machiavelli, see:

Yet, I'm veering off-track. forgive me.

My objective from the outset was for all of our readers was to adapt to varying levels of personal space, particularly without frustration, as such an adaptation will render you a much more flexible global citizen.