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Please stop invading my personal space!!

19 August 2015, 21:32 Ann Muigai

Nairobi - A long-standing rule of social etiquette dictates that we stay out of other people’s personal space. No matter who you are or what part of the world you are coming from, this rule holds and applies. It is not only offensive but threatening when people invade our personal space. Not once or twice have I had to tell someone off my personal space. There exists a bunch of people the world over, who are either clueless or patently ignorant of this rule.

I have encountered people who want to hover around my ears and neck when explaining something. Asking me to do a small favor does not warrant you to suffocate me with your bad breath. If you are close enough to feel the warmth of someone's breath on your face, then you are too close, way too close!

I’m repulsed most by the guys who hang around newspaper vendors, waiting for someone to buy a copy. Even before the seller has given back your change, they will pool around you peering over your shoulders to read the paper. Poor you, these people will even make remarks after reading, trying to be as comfortable as they can. Worse, some even pat your shoulder as they laugh loudly on your ears. If you are lucky, you will escape horrid saliva all over your ears lobes by hurrying off.

Invasion of personal space causes irritability and anxiety, the degree varying from one person to another. If you are like me, the scale is incalculable. It is hard to endure the alien scents and gulps of air on your face. Scientists have defined the invisible boundary that marks our absolute limit of personal space as being between eight and 16 inches from our faces! Oh! I’m astounded by how ignorant many people are, invading your personal space.

Personal space is invaluable. It has been linked to defense; this is the point where we start to feel threatened. When people invade our personal space, we feel uncomfortable and may feel the need for security. Though inevitable, scenarios like when queuing in public halls to get a service limit our choices. Invasion of personal space is however annoying and may make us react in defensive ways, in a bid to “rescue” ourselves.

Invasion of personal space has become a prevalent problem in many contexts, be it social or religious. I often find it unfair that I have to struggle to back away in a bid to regain my personal space when it’s rudely invaded. Sometimes, I have to turn and pretend I’m getting something from my drawer or handbag, just to breathe. I try to create a whole new space when the invader is unconscious of their invasion. Creating new space has worked for me. But I feel it's time people stopped invading other’s personal space. It’s crucial to know and understand the limit, and how close is too close.

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