Mark’s Blog

Yesterday I published a video explaining the difference between bad behaviour and difficult behaviour. And you can find it here.

But today I’m back to my series ’52 blogs in 52 weeks with each blog being about one of my 52 types of poorly behaved and difficult people’.  And this week’s delightful character is number 40: The Space-Invader. Enjoy.

#40. The Space-Invader. 

Surprise, surprise. 

Space-Invaders invade your personal space. They stand too close. And they sit too close. And once they’re in, they make the most of it. But let’s face it. If that’s all they did, we could probably cope. After all, they’re probably nothing more than a ‘close talker’ like Aaron from the sitcom Seinfeld.

The ‘close talker’ means no harm.

Aaron was Elaine’s boyfriend. He was nice enough but didn’t understand people have an invisible boundary around them. And he didn’t understand he shouldn’t go past it unless he was specifically asked to do so.

Aaron

Sure, Aaron was a bit odd but he was also lovable. He leaned into people because he was genuinely enthusiastic and wanted everyone to be friends.

Sure, he would “talk into your mouth like you’re a clown at a drive-through” but he didn’t stay in people’s space for long. He moved in, said what he wanted to say and then got out. And perhaps more importantly, when he was in someone’s space, he didn’t touch them.

But the Space-Invader is no Aaron. 

The Space-Invader we’re talking about here is very different. The Space-Invader moves into your personal space and stays there. Or leaves only to return time and time again – despite your obvious discomfort. And to top it off, the Space-Invader is commonly ‘a toucher’.

Too much, too often and too long.

But it gets worse. Space-Invaders don’t just touch you. They touch you way too often. Perhaps with their hand, perhaps with their arm, and perhaps with their body. And they touch you for way too long. Long enough for you to feel pretty uncomfortable. And for you to wonder what their game is.

Now just before anyone accuses me of being a little bit too sensitive or suffering from some form of ‘touch-phobia’, let me say this. I’m as liberated as the next man. I can handle people touching me. I’m not scared of physical expression. But the Space-Invader wants to touch touch touch. On the hand, on the arm, on the shoulder – and for way too long. Seriously, for way too long.

So what we do about them? 

Well first, let’s remember this: It’s Your Body So It’s Your Rules. Okay? You decide how close people can be to you and whether they can touch you or not. Simple? Okay, there’s more to it than that. In some cases there are also policies, guidelines and even laws. But let’s not get into that today.

So what can you do about the Space-Invader? Well, there’s plenty you can do. And to start the ball rolling, here’s a few ideas based on my list of ‘top strategies’ which you can download by clicking here.

  1. Avoid them. If you know where they are, don’t go there. Not always possible of course, but always worth a try.
  2. Move away from them. When you see them coming or when they’re already too close, go somewhere else.
  3. Manipulate the environment. If you can get someone else to be with you, terrific. And if you can get a barrier between you and them, terrific. Sometimes, for example, it’s possible to have a table or something else separating you from the invader.
  4. Give them the look. That’s right. Give them the great look you have which says “I don’t like what you’re doing so stop it now.” Sometimes it works.
  5. Tell them to back off. Tell them, politely yet assertively of course, you don’t like what they’re doing. Tell them you don’t want them to be so close or to touch you. I’m a real believer in this one. After all, what’s wrong with telling someone you don’t like what they’re doing? And I have a special script you can tailor to suit your needs.
  6. And if the problem persists, or if you really really don’t like what they’re doing:
  • Leave and go to safety – commonly called ‘getting the heck out’;
  • Move their hand off you – a potentially dangerous move but it has to be done sometimes; or
  • Let others know what’s going on – I think there’s a time when you’re at a party, in the office or wherever and you have to speak loudly enough for others to hear you and know what’s going on.

Let’s leave it here.

Okay. I said I’d be brief but I guess I haven’t been. So I better leave it here. If you want to talk about how to handle the Space-Invader or anyone else who’s badly behaved and difficult, click on this link and book yourself in for a chat.

Until next time, all the very best,

Mark.

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