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Communication Skills Training : Space Comfort Zone in the U.S.

Communication Skills Training : Space Comfort Zone in the U.S.


In all countries, people need a certain amount of space to feel comfortable in different situations. The size of these zones is determined by culture—Japanese  feel comfortable with closer contact than Latinos or North Americans.

Here is what communication scientists have identified for the United States.

  • The intimate region, from 16 to 18 inches.  We reserve this for people we feel closest to.  We will move our bodies away if someone comes too close
  • The private space, from 1.5 feet to about 4 feet, is our comfort zone when speaking with colleagues and acquaintances in quiet conversation
  • The social zone, from 4 to 12 feet, is the space most people in the U.S. culture feel is appropriate to put between themselves and strangers
  • Public space is anything beyond 12 feet.

Pay attention to the space you and others occupy.  Pay attention to the other person’s body language and movement.  If they move away from you or closer to you, they could be signaling or expressing their personal  comfort zone or that of their country of origin.

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