Archive for January 7th, 2010

When do you touch someone? Or more importantly when don’t you?  Why do you touch someone and why don’t you?   What is the etiquette of greeting people?   How well do you have to know someone, before you kiss them hello? Do you kiss them on the cheek once? Or twice!

It’s a social minefield.  The truth is that we have become a nation of touchy-feelies, a nation of huggers.   Not that hugging is a bad thing – after all there is nothing wrong with a little human warmth.

How do you remain private when everyone else wants to touch you?

In a society where genuine warmth has been replaced by the pretence of warmth, you protest at your peril.   Wanting to keep your own personal space is increasingly being seen as a bit cold, unfriendly and uptight.

In the past, people didn’t kiss, or openly hug or rub each other’s shoulders.   But it’s all changed.   Men and women greet each other and members of the opposite sex with a physical warmth that would have been unacceptable even, a decade or so ago.   In the past, men shook hands with other men in a formal fashion – then they shook hands with the ladies they were introduced to.

Watch any TV show these days and you will notice a lot of hugging going on between the hosts and the participants.   It has become a common practice to hug on stage when someone wins a prize, arrives for a show and even heterosexual men have now become far less uptight about giving and receiving hugs.

In a way, we’ve all become more Euro-centric in that sense.   People living in countries such as Italy, France and Spain have always kissed each other hello.

In 1959, psychologist Edward T Hall defined personal space as an ’emotionally charged bubble of space which surrounds each individual’ and added that anything closer than 5ft was to close for anyone other than intimate relations.

Current estimations of the accepted distance in the U.S. now ranges from 18ft to 4ft, and endless experts study this subject – it is called the study of proxemics.

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