A recent bout with the common cold left me curled up on the couch channel surfing. I stumbled upon a rerun of the popular comedy The Big Bang Theory. The premise of this show was character Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s inability to tolerate anyone sitting in his “spot” on the sofa. I laughed the entire half-hour and got to thinking about the “spot” concept. “Hmmm…I have a spot in Zumba class, a spot in the conference room, a spot for parking my car.”
The sitcom did help me view my habit with a sense of humor. As I thought about all my “spots”, I began to question “Why IS this my spot? What RIGHT do I have to claim this spot?” It seems the “spot” phenomena is common among human beings and animals. Edward T. Hall, in his work on proxemics, developed a theory involving four forms of human territory:
- Public territory–a place where one may freely enter.
- Interactional territory–a place where people congregate informally.
- Home territory–a place where people claim their individual territory.
- Body territory–the personal space immediately surrounding us.
Our level of comfort with someone taking or infringing upon our space is determined by our level of territoriality. People with high territoriality show a greater concern for ownership of things. This can lead to stress if someone encroaches so much as a piece of paper onto our desk. People with low territoriality have less of a concern with material ownership, share space freely, but may not return a borrowed book or tool promptly either.
What is your level of territoriality? Try to think about your “spot” habits with a fresh perspective. Be open-minded and let someone have or share your space. Park your car a little farther away; the extra walk will do your body good. Sit in a different area at your next meeting; you may make a new business acquaintance. Get out and explore! Our future should be bigger than our past. We should always strive to move forward and not stand still in the