personal space, privacy

“You barely hang out with us, so it’s hard for us to be friends with you.”   

First day at work, and people have already asked tons of questions about your personal life. Here and there, your deskmate eavesdrops on your talk. Every week, they insinuate you to join their party for “bonding purposes” although you do not want to. Sometimes, you receive quite intrusive comments that you struggle to find an appropriate answer. 

While bonding at work can help colleagues understand each other better, everyone must understand that each person has their own level of privacy, and it is of utmost importance that their personal boundaries are respected. A’s survey of 1400 respondents pointed out that 40% of them felt annoyed when their colleagues invaded their personal space with minor issues, and 22% of them suffered from loud talkers in the office. 60% determined that colleagues’ behaviors heavily affected their productivity, showing that it is crucial that we become mindful of personal space in the office. 

  1. Learn about the differences 

Everyone has different takes on the concept of personal privacy. Sometimes, what seems to be an incident of privacy invasion to you, might appear normal to the so-called invaders. Therefore, it is essential that members that work together acknowledge the level of privacy their teammates need so that they can cater their behavior and  avoid uneasy situations. 

The definition of personal space varies greatly among people, and even greater among cultures. You will want to learn about those boundaries by doing research, small talks with your colleagues, and even reflecting on yourself.   

  1. Keep your behaviour at a professional level

Sometimes people let loose of their words, get more intimate by touching or hugging, or ask questions about personal lives as an act of making friends. While these are of good intentions, things might be uncomfortable on the receiving end. Be mindful of who you are talking to, whether they warmly react to your actions or get agitated, and moderate your behaviour accordingly. Conversation topics should also be maintained within work-zone or light-hearted jokes.   

And it is crucial that you manage your volume properly when talking to people during business hours, you do not want to distract your surroundings by talking too loud. 

>>Read more: What Is Informal Communication In Business Organizations?

  1. Respect the others’ saying “no”

You want them to join in the fun, but they gently decline and remain a bystander. Your team decides to go on a trip, and one of your teammates says that they cannot go due to personal reasons. Some may think that said person is a “boomer” and insist that they must go so that the team can get closer. This will make the situation worse, and failure to reach a compromise will definitely put a strain on the team. 

No need to be passive aggressive or displeased about the declination. Instead, you can choose to ask for their reason, offer an alternative, or just simply “we will bring back gifts if you like”.  

  1. And remember, communication is key 

Once again, the extent to which a person needs their personal space varies widely, and your colleagues cannot know yours until you tell them. If you feel that they are being a bit too much, gently tell them that you need privacy so that they would know. And vice versa, you should watch out for their reactions, and ask beforehand what they feel comfortable with and what’s not. 

More often than not, the invasion happens by accident. Not talking about it will generate unnecessary negative feelings, dampening the team dynamic. Talk it out, and not only will you have a chance to get to know your colleagues better, you will also learn how to treat them nicely, thus strengthening the relationship. 

>> Read more: The Art of Office Etiquette

Personal space is invisible, yet it is indispensable in creating a harmonious dynamic in a team. Pay close attention to it shows that you care about your colleagues, and it’s one of the most powerful ways to get close to them. 

The JobHopin Team