Reading body language: Proximity and The Bell Bubble


Reading body language:

learning how to read nonverbal communication or even learning how to communicate more effectively through learning body language may take you to many places or events that you have never been to before.


You may just find that your communication verbally and nonverbally becomes more fluid and people understand you better. When people understand you better they do not have to take the time to try and interpret what you mean or what you are saying.


Just about every time you learn something new there will be specific parts that you learn that you will be uncomfortable with and there will also be parts or ideas that just seem to flow well.


What is body language specifically? The answer is what others read into what you are doing with your body while you are communicating and how you think it is being perceived in real time along with what the other person believes is going on. In essence someone or a group is reacting to you and then you are reacting to them. In some instances their reactions or your reactions are not even being done on purpose they are unconscious. Some questions from the person or people watching you or the other way around may be is the person:

  • ·         Telling the truth or believed to be trustworthy
  • ·         Looking for a date from a man or a woman
  • ·         Acting normal or overly animated
  • ·         A threat


While communicating there are rules to follow with your non verbal communication so that your message is seen as being effective and easy to follow, some you may know and some you may have never been told.


Body language can be perceived and will be perceived wrong from the person or the people that are watching. Proximity can be confused from person to person along with regional or national implications. In the United States people tend to like their space and that area is at least 18 inches around their body. This area or Bell Bubble is a comfort zone and when infiltrated tension occurs.


Understanding body language or nonverbal communication skills
Interpreting body language is a persuasive selling skill


The best way to define the area within the bell bubble is to stand up and swing your forearm up while your elbow is at your side. This distance from your elbow to your fingertips will range from 14 – 20 inches in most instances (for some people longer for some people shorter). This area would be considered your personal space and if you were to meet with another person for the most part here in the United States and other parts of the world that is what other people would consider part of their personal space.


Yes there are some things that translate from one country to another when it comes to body language.


Now you can also use this Bell Bubble to the right and left sides of your body as well. If you were to bring your forearm as if you were pointing to the right or to the left you would still be out the 14 – 20 inches to the side the Bell Bubble would still apply. Even if you could fold your arm backwards your comfort zone will be within 14 – 20 inches. This non-verbal tip is meant to help you to not break a proximity boundary.


Some people require more room so that they feel like they are not being threatened or it just may be a comfort zone in general.

Sometimes you have no verbal cues when you meet a person for the first time. In these instances communication skills are very important. One of the ways that you build rapport or comfort is by mirroring or doing similar actions as the person near you. By staying in an area of comfort which is at least 18 – 20 inches away from the person or even sometimes double that you have a better chance of getting your valuable message across.


What is body language? learn how to read your own communication
Proximity and the Bell Bubble for non-verbal skills


One easy way to keep outside of another person’s Bell Bubble is to be two arm distances away from the other person.  Now you can go too far away and that will seem strange and unusual the same as standing too close. When people react to you in a way that is easy to understand and interpret you know you have done something wrong almost instantly.


You know you are too close to a person or you have invaded their Bell Bubble when they either cringe or take a step back, in such an instance you would want to slowly move back over a few step as to not jump away too quickly. If your movements at this point are strange it will give the person a reason to not like or even trust you. This may lead them to strange facial expressions or they may even bulk up like they are about to fight. If done repeatedly the other person may think that you are playing mind games.


Learning how to read body language and even understand in interpret body language can benefit you once learned for business, dating, maintaining relationships, determining is someone is lying or you could even learn nonverbal communication skills just for fun. Learning how to read people can give you huge benefits.


Remember to keep people comfortable by not getting too close or too far and that for you to determine your Bell Bubble it is usually the distance from your elbow to your fingertips.


As always I would like to thank you for your comments and or questions in advance.


Now go implement!


Scott Sylvan Bell


Photo credits:  Intimate Couple In Bed by photostock, Business Handshake by chanpipat

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15 thoughts on “Reading body language: Proximity and The Bell Bubble”

  1. Thanks for the simple and practical techniques to establish the Bell Bubble. I know that I personally don’t like people invading “my space” – especialy if I don’t know them that well.

  2. Scott those are really practical, easily-implementable tips. I also paticularly liked your advice on what to do if you get it wrong – I suspect most of us would leap backwards upon realising our mistake. In a new part of the world it’s often difficult to judge the ‘average’ personal space until you’ve met quite a few people.

    Ecobrew Coffee – is it Green?

  3. Yes I have felt it when you walk in someones bell bubble.

    And I’ve felt the lost of trust when someone moves to soon after they have intruded.

    Love the learnings!

    Create a great day.

  4. Hi, it’s good text, but i think it’s very shallow for me. Mayby i have to big expectations.

    P.S. Bell Bubble i’s funny name for this techniqe in Poland we have some other words for describing this techniqe.

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