Communication Using Space

Stanley Liu, 9th Grader || 10.24.18


     Communication is not simply just words, pictures, or gestures. As a broad generic word, communication can range from physical contact to facial expressions. Our actions heavily define the messages that humans send to you. But one important action that people generally do not think of is the increasing or decreasing of interactions space.  Space sends a silent language that is sometimes misinterpreted by the recipient of the message. Unfortunately, this type of silent communication may be even more important than verbal communication in certain situations. The increasing or decreasing of distance between two or more people greatly affects themselves.

     When a person is far away from another, there are several messages that may be conveyed. They might dislike or even fear each other. The deadliness of communication with space is that sometimes the other person or people do not understand the abundant amount of distance. During my school years, I figured if a person moves farther away, then he or she feels offended, disinterested, or scared of I or my actions. However, there could be other reasons. Instead of antagonism toward one another, the distance could also mean shyness. When a person meets a new person, shyness may get in the way, and one person may keep his distance from the other. There is no hatred in this situation; instead, the situation is filled with friendliness, but with the timidity of a person’s self-characteristic.   Other cultures have their own expectation of considering the amount of acceptable space. In America, people are usually farther from each other when communicating than the Latin Americans. Therefore, other cultures who visit the United States will misinterpret the abundant amount of space as unfriendliness, yet that space is the amount that Americans consider comfortable.

     On the other hand, when a person is closer to each other, the lack of space may be misinterpreted differently with each individual. Some may think the closeness represents sexual feelings and or a close relationship with one and another. Others, especially of different countries and cultures, may think the absence of space is unavoidable or required for proper communication. Crowded countries like the United Kingdom cannot avoid the minimal amount of space and eventually get used to it. Lack of space for people living in these filled places is not as much as a bother than the people living in roomy places like the United States. According to Edward Hall, an American anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher, Latin Americans “cannot talk comfortably with one another unless they are very close the distance that evokes either sexual or hostile feelings in the North American.  Thus, Latin Americans may feel hurt or insulted when individuals from another culture increases the space between them, but it actually is just a matter of fact of the amount of space for proper communication. Lack of space can mean a close relationship or sexual appeal, or it could also mean a demand for a clearer way communicating such as when telling a secret. All these interpretations could be evoked from the lack of space; unfortunately, it is up to the other person to decide these silent messages.

     Space is important to human interactions, yet, people sometimes underestimate the importance of it.  This form of communication cannot be decrypted to understand the meanings of each lack or excess of space because there are severally factors that have to be depended upon. The distance between one and another greatly affects the situation. Thus, space can be as great as verbal communication, so next time when there is lack of verbal communication, use space as a form of communication instead.