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If you're looking to develop your Nonverbal Communication Skills, you may find this Communication Skills Training Course beneficial:

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Personal Space - Proxemics

What is Proxemics?

Proxemics is the study of how people react to the varying amount of space between them.

In some situations, such as in a crowded tube train, you are pressed up against strangers.

In other situations, such as in a museum, you may share a large space with relatively few people.

You will probably feel and act differently in each situation.

Proxemics is the study of how you feel and react under conditions of varying proximity.

The origin of Proxemics was a book called, The Hidden Dimension, written in 1963, by an anthropologist Edward Hall.

According to Hall, Proxemics is useful in thinking about the way people interact with others in daily life, and how this knowledge may affect the design of buildings and public spaces.

Space Boundaries

According to the theory, you could envisage each person as having a series of four concentric circles around them, with themselves at the centre of the circles. Each circle is wider than the next and each mark-out a space into which only certain classes of people are permitted.

The four spaces are called:

  1. The intimate space, into which you allow only family and lovers.
  2. Personal space, into which you allow good friends and people with whom you have good rapport.
  3. Social space, into which you allow casual friends and acquaintances.
  4. Public space, into which the rest of humanity fit.

What are the sizes of the four spaces?

There are no absolute and fixed boundaries because different people have set their limits at different distances, but in general the vast majority of people seem to operate according to the following rules.

  • The intimate space, 0 - 1.5 feet.
  • Personal space, 1.5 - 4 ft
  • Social space, 4 - 12 ft.
  • Public space, 12 ft and beyond.

How distance affects interactions


1. Intimate space is reserved for contact by close family members and lovers. If a stranger violates this space, then the violation is perceived as an attack. It would be a breach of social convention and the criminal law.

There are exceptions, such as medical practitioners; dentists, doctors and medics.

Other people you would allow into your intimate space may be masseurs, hairdressers and others who provide personal services.

If you are on the tube train or in a crowded lift, and the situation forces you to mutually invade each other's intimate space, (ie you are pressed up against and touching) then that is a stressful situation and most people don't like it.

2. Personal space is the region into which you allow people with whom you have good rapport.

People value their personal space and they feel irritation, antagonism, or anxiety whenever someone they don't know invades their space.

When you allow someone to enter your personal space, you are socially promoting them. And if you do not allow them to enter your space, (by moving backwards, in response to their approach), then you are socially rebuffing them.

3. Social space. This is the zone for normal professional relationships. You use this for business conversations with colleagues and associates, and for group discussions.

If you are a work colleague, it is important that you don't accidentally invade people's personal space.

Depending on the relationship, invading other people's personal space will be perceived as being pushy, creepy, bullying, insensitive or crass.

4. Public space. This is for strangers, and members of the general public. There is not much to say about this zone since it covers the whole world, outside your social space, 12 ft - infinity.

Appropriate distances for Business Networking

It is important that you do not violate other people's sensibilities. When you are in business situations, keep your distance.

  • Don't get too close.
  • Don't touch people, unnecessarily.
  • Don't sit next to someone if there are other options available.
  • Err on the side of caution.

On the other hand, if you want to build rapport with people, then you may want to gently test their distance boundaries and NOTICE the feedback-response you get.

For example, if you try moving from their social space to their personal space and they seem to respond positively, then you have promoted yourself to the next level; which may be to your advantage.

But if you try moving from their social space into their personal space, and they respond negatively, (by moving themselves to re-establish the social space) then you have NOT been promoted and it would be a major error to keep trying.

If you keep trying, you will seem insensitive.

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Differences in cultures

The boundaries are NOT fixed and invariable. They are fluid and flexible. They vary between different people and they vary between different cultures.

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For example, the French kiss strangers on the cheeks, as a greeting, and call it the 'Bisou' (Bee-zoo).

The British and Americans generally don't do this.


Another example; in Myanmar it is normal for a shop assistant to follow a shopper at close proximity around the shop, to provide good service. But if that happened here, in the UK, you might find that irritating.

In Kenya you will commonly see men holding hands with other men as a sign of friendship. In the UK you would likely interpret that to indicate a romantic relationship.

It is important to be observant

Pay attention to distance cues. For example, if someone doesn't offer their hand as a greeting, don't offer your hand. Greetings are influenced by many factors; religion, customs, personality traits, social hierarchy and context.

Observe people's behaviour and be sensitive to the effects of your behaviour on them.

Be ready to make the necessary adaptive changes in your behaviour, based on the feedback results you are getting from your recent actions.

Then all will be well.

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Further Reading in Communication - Nonverbal Communication

  • Communication skills training - Voice tone
    Your communication skills training should include the effect of your voice tone on others. Learn how to control your tone with Corporate Coach Group.
    Read Article >
  • Effective Body Language
    Body language is an important part of being an effective communicator. You can make a positive impression with other people, when you learn to use good body language. Effective body language is well known to improve your self-confidence.
    Read Article >
  • Personal Space - Proxemics
    Personal space is a form of non-verbal communication. It is important to recognise that the physical space surrounding each person has dedicated zones, which should be respected according to the rules of Proxemics, in order to gain trust.
    Read Article >
  • Body language and nonverbal communication skills
    Body language and nonverbal communication skills Face to face communication is of two fundamental types: Verbal communication Nonverbal communication Verbal communication is the use of words; language. Non-verbal communication is..
    Read Article >
  • Ten Ways to Improve Your Body Language
    10 Ways To Improve Your Body Language You communicate primarily by means of four channels. Your four channels of communication are: Spoken language. Written language. Voice tones. Body language. Body language is an important component of your total communication. The body language component of your communication carries a lot of information..
    Read Article >

As a reader of this blog, you know that different workloads need different storage – a high-performance transactional system like a stock-trading platform needs a different storage solution than an archival backup system.

Software-defined storage solutions like Microsoft’s Storage Spaces Direct, deliver innovative technology to pool and manage storage devices directly connected to servers. Though that alone might have seemed like magic a few years ago, it doesn’t include enough magic to overcome matching a workload to the wrong storage configuration. You wouldn’t expect a go-kart engine to power your race car, and storage is no different.

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In this blog series I will be sharing some helpful, broad guidelines to optimize your Storage Spaces Direct configuration based on our workload testing. I will be sharing early results and recommendations based on various configurations running different types of workloads.

This first blog is an introduction to workloads and I/O patterns.

Storage Spaces Direct, Meet Workloads and I/O Patterns

Consider two common database workloads, data analytics and transactional processing. Data analytics, as well business intelligence and data warehouse, are read-intensive and perform large block I/O.

Table 1 reports the read I/O from a SQL Server Data Warehouse Fast Track validation test, which is similar to the TPC-H benchmark. 25.03% of reads were 1,024 KB, 7.69% were 968 KB, 3.30% were 960 KB, etc. Data analytics issues lots of big-block reads.

Table 2 reports the read I/O from SQL Server during Hybrid Transactional/Analytical Processing (HTAP), where transactional processing dominates the occasional analytics query. As you browse through the product catalog in an online store, 99.99% of reads are 64KB; not shown are the writes issued when you place an order, but those are 64KB or less as well. Transactional systems issue lots of small-block reads (and writes).

Hyperconverged Infrastructure, meet the I/O Blender Effect

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is often associated with software-defined storage: the server running applications – typically virtualized applications – is also providing the software-defined storage. We previously demonstrated that as you add virtualized applications to the server, the server quickly hits a storage performance bottleneck that effectively limits the number of workloads that server can support – workload density.

This is caused by the I/O Blender Effect. Consider the data analytics workload above, which issues many large-block reads. Virtualize that workload, and several more like it, and run those on an HCI server. Although each workload issues sequential reads, those reads are intermingled with the reads from all the other virtualized workloads. At the hypervisor and storage level, all that I/O gets mixed up – as if it were run through a blender. The storage system gets random I/O, even though it started off as sequential I/O.

If you also move some transactional workloads with their small-block reads and writes to that same server, that will magnify the I/O Blender Effect: the storage system gets intermingled small-block writes with large-block reads. That’s stressful both for hard disk drives (HDDs) due to increased read/write head movement, and for solid state drives (SSDs) due to the added complexity being handled by the SSD firmware. In both cases, “stressful” workloads cause increased latency, slowing I/O request completion, slowing down applications and challenging your service level agreements (SLAs).

Optimize Your Storage Spaces Direct Configuration By Matching it to Your Workload

Storage Spaces Direct supports a variety of storage configurations, combining SSDs and HDDs to meet your workloads’ storage performance needs, as shown in Table 3.

If you need blazing performance, you can use NVMe™ drives with SAS or SATA SSDs. If you need high capacity at low cost, you can use a few SSDs with many HDDs. For something in the middle, you can choose from several additional configurations.

That’s Great, But Which Should You Choose, And Why?

That’s a great question, with a complex answer – because every workload is different, so the perfect matching storage configuration will be unique. But that’s not a very helpful answer 🙂

There are actually more combinations than Table 3 indicates. To start with, HDDs and SSDs are available as both SAS and SATA. As well, Western Digital’s product portfolio includes multiple HDD product families that are helium- or air-filled at different capacities and price points, and multiple SAS SSD product families with different endurance (DW/D) and price points.

Too much complexity! Too many permutations! How do I choose?!

Western Digital’s Data Propulsion Labs team is testing many different Storage Spaces Direct configurations, and based on some early results we can get you started with some broad guidance on how to best power your enterprise applications and Big Data and Fast Data initiatives. We’ll continue provide additional guidance as additional testing is completed and new products in our portfolio are released.

In my next blog, I will share our first testing results and some initial guidance for different type of workloads.

Published on January 26, 2018, in Applications