Ever heard of the Personal Bubble? If not, you are about to! Understanding this simple concept is just one important key of many when it comes to communicating with your customer. In fact, the concept can be used with any social interaction you are involved in.
Many years ago, when I was working at an airport, I had a guy standing in front of me waving his arms in an invisible arc around his head and body, stepping back and telling me I was ‘invading his personal bubble’. Did I raise my eyebrows? Well, yes, slightly. After all it was a rather manic behaviour and all I was trying to do was to solve an issue. What I did not realize was that I was standing too close, and it was reducing my level of successful communication with my customer.
So what exactly is it? The Personal Bubble is an invisible shield. It sits around one’s person so that if another individual steps into it, it can cause psychological discomfort. How big is my Bubble you may ask? It can vary person to person, but as a rough guideline, if you put your arms out at shoulder level that will give you your own bubble’s circumference. Have you ever stood in front of someone and they step back? It is a subconscious action that takes place if you are too close to them. Try it for yourself and you will see how the size of the bubble will vary from person to person.
When it comes to customer service, understanding the Personal Bubble is important. If you are too close, it is almost as though you are being overly familiar. The customer may also naturally raise their hands in a defensive gesture, which you in turn can miss-read.
So, a simple rule: Respect the Bubble! If it is not respected, a potential customer will feel insecure, possibly threatened, and will unlikely want to do business with you.