Sunday, 8 April 2012

Proxemic and Psychological Eggs

Since today is Easter I would like to focus this post on the topic of ‘eggs’ (not the chocolate ones, I am afraid)! 

The concepts that I am going to discuss below come from a lesson I was given during my MA in Business Communications in Italy. The course was about marketing and relationships and that lesson was about mediation and negotiation in professional contexts.

Have you ever heard of 'proxemic egg'? It is a metaphorical bubble that surrounds each of us. Inside it we do not like the presence of other people unless we give them our permission to get in. The bubble size is variable depending on a number of factors: the kind of relationship with the person, the type of environment, the gender, the size and also cultural elements.

The constant is that when someone comes over the limit we have set for him/her, we can have two reactions: either escape or aggression.

While the proxemics egg is a metaphor relating to the physical space, we can also speak about the existence of a 'psychological egg'. The image of the egg helps to understand how each of us keeps people, things and ideas at a certain distance from the nucleus (where the more emotional investment is kept). The closer a person gets to our psychological egg's center without our implicit permission the more intense is the reaction.

We can all remember seeing someone take it in a way that seemed totally out of proportion, for a joke that after all was not too bad. However, if we can get out of the equation ‘This person is either mad or bad for having such a reaction” - which is often found in these circumstances, we might be able to see that the argument was simply placed in the affective nucleo of the subject.

To be able to handle relationships with people without breaking their proxemic and psychological eggs (which in turn would lead to a broken relationship) demands attention, understanding of others, tenderness, strength, mastery of the body, clarity and timing.

These are all essential elements not only in our private lives but also in our everyday professional lives when mediation, negotiation, avoidance of conflicts at work are vital for the success of the organization and its team spirit.

Everyone has different proxemics and psychological eggs and we need to understand the differences.

Think of managing a team and having all the members’ eggs in your hands. What is necessary to do for the good success of the team is to build trust, confidence, understanding, to strive to quickly interpret the emotional state and mental and physical balance of the other people and the group as a whole.