Public Interest Courtesy Rule #8

crowd.jpgWhen queuing for whatever reason, whether it be waiting for a bus, service at fast food outlets, or in the checkout at the supermarket, it is important to respect other people’s personal space at all times. Standing unbearably close to them will not make the line move more quickly and will not mean that your needs are attended to before their own.

Here is a quick guide to assist you in determining whether you have given other people enough personal space:

  1. If any part of your body, your shopping bags, trolley, backpack or handbag are touching the other person, you are too close.
  2. If when you breathe, the hair or clothes of the person in front moves in the breeze caused by your outgoing breath, you are too close.
  3. If you could easily headbutt the person in front of you without taking a step towards them, you are too close.
  4. If the person in front of you can’t pay for their item without leaning across you to reach the counter, you are too close.
  5. If the other person keeps trying to move away from you, they are not giving you extra room out of the goodness of their hearts, you are too close.
  6. If the person in front of you is giving you death stares and you can easily see the fiery glint in their eye, you are too close.

A good rule of thumb to test whether you are allowing other people enough space is to ensure that no part of you or your possessions are touching the other person, and that they can complete their transaction without having to touch you in any way. Please note this is only a minimum suggested personal space circumference, the more space you allow, the more appreciative other people will be. If you have space to spare, there is no need to impinge on someone else.

When finding yourself in a place where queuing or being surrounded by other people is necessary please remember to respect the personal space of other people. It really is self-explanatory. Personal space is personal, so don’t invade it.


  1. jan

    In some cultures they are not comfortable unless they are invading what I consider my personal space. I remember being at a party one time when an American professor was talking with a mideastern visiting lecturer. They kind of danced around the floor, each trying to find his personal space with the other.

  2. The Artist

    Special Christmas greetings from the South of New Zealand where there is lots of personal space, best wishes, The Artist

  3. Tracey

    Hi Jan – That’s a very good point, I guess personal space is all culturally relative. I suppose it’s a matter of adjusting to the standard. It would definitely make for some interesting times.

    Hi The Artist – Thanks for the Christmas cheer. I’ve often thought of taking a journey to NZ…sounds like personal space would cause me no problem down there.

  4. Tisha

    Oh another PICR, love these!

    It’s really interesting how we all perceive our personal space so differently,even at an individual level.

    One of the painful issues that often comes up between friends for example is hygiene – how to tell a friend they have BO or bad breath – well that person, friend or not, needs to keep their distance LOL – actually I just tell them they stink and should take care of it!

    Well Tracey, the end of 2006 has been very eventful and wonderful having met you and I wish you all your heart’s desires for 2007 and Happy Holidays!


  5. Tracey

    Hi Tisha – Thanks for stopping in again. The rules are always a bit of fun to write, I’m glad you enjoy them. I think you’ve raised some great points about hygiene…always a delicate topic to bring up, but I think the direct approach is often the best. Merry Christmas and happy new year to you as well Tisha, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you over the past few months. Catch you later!!

  6. Rob

    I remember the video that the first commenter mentions. Quite amusing.

    Not only are cultures responsible for differing person space, but also it depends which part of the country you’re from. Country folk desire a lot more space than city dwellers.

    I hate standing in queues having the person behind me sigh repeatedly thus moving my hair around. I’ve been known to turn and ask them to back off.

    Nice site – found you on BlogMad.

  7. Navilyn

    I love this!

    I wish people would not stand ‘right up on me’ when in a que. Why do they do it? I sometimes have to look round at them, dead in the eye, and am a big guy. You’d think they’d figure out, ‘I better move back’. But, no, it’s almost as if they want to cozy up next to me…


  8. Tracey

    Hi Rob – Thanks for your comments. It certainly is interesting to here about the cultural and regional differences in regards to personal space…and yes I have to agree with your comments, people can be so annoying!

    Hi Navilyn – Thanks for your kind words. I hate it when people get to close to me and invade my space. People are just strange. Nick Cave has a great song which I often think of…’People just ain’t no good’.

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