Ever meet someone who gets so up close and personal with you that you keep backing up to get away from them – and they keep coming forward to get closer again?
And you could be doing it to your own clients, if you don’t understand that different cultures require different degrees of personal space. The average American wants and needs about 2 1/2 feet between them and a casual acquaintance. That’s where we feel comfortable, and the space we try to maintain.
But some cultures, the Japanese for instance, want more space – about another foot. So, they might shake your hand, but then step back. If you step forward into your comfortable space, they’ll back up. And unless you catch on, you’re apt to back them right out your door, never to return.
You know how much you like to avoid people who crowd your space – so do they!
On the other hand, some cultures are more comfortable up close – way too close for your comfort. And just as you feel a bit slighted when someone backs away from you, they’ll feel slighted when you back away from them. So try to resist.
Something else to remember – each of us is an individual, no matter what our culture. So tune in to your individual customers and their need for personal space. Some folks are just more private than others, so make it your goal to let them feel comfortable when they’re with you.