One of the more interesting situations where I saw proxemics and haptics in action was when I went with a friend who was interested in buying a used car. It was early on a Saturday morning and my friend and I were walking around looking at the different cars offered for sale. Although my friend concentrated on the cars, I was doing some “people watching” as well. One thing I noticed was although there was a sales man who was not engaged in conversation with a customer he did not immediately approach us. A few minutes later, I realized why; the salesmen were working in teams, using proxemics to steer people away from each other and over to the cars they wanted to sell.
One salesman walked up to us stood between us creating a group rather than an adversarial positioning point. . After greeting us and identifying my friend as the intended buyer, he kept moving towards my friend to steer him towards a car they were pushing that day. He did this by repeatedly stepping into my friends comfort zone into the personal range of less than four feet. .
While this was happening, another salesman walked up greeted his sales partner and started to talk to me about the great “choice” my friend made. All the while, he kept stepping closer and closer to me, expecting me to back away. I did not budge until I was ready to walk around him, go up to my friend, and tell her how perfect my salesperson thought her selection of car was. The combination of perplexity, frustration and betrayal on the faces of the salesmen was priceless as we walked over to the car she wanted and proceeded to check it out further. Knowing the theories behind proxemics and haptics helped that day. . My friend got a good look at the car she was interested in, and we both got a good laugh together as we drove away.
Cohen, S. (2009, 07 13). Proxemics – the Psychology of Positioning: Use this for Interview Success! Retrieved from Career Rocketeer: http://careerrocketeer.com/2009/07/proxemics-the-psychology-of-positioning-use-this-for-interview-success.html
Fullerton College-Staff. (2014). Lecture notes for Nonverbal Communications. Retrieved from Fullerton College: http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/elong/100%20new/Nonverbal.htm
Oregon State Univerity-Staff. (2014). Nonverbal Communication Theories. Retrieved from Oregon State Univerity: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/comm321/gwalker/nonverbal.htm