But you probably know people who constantly invade your personal space. From the coworker who reads over your shoulder to the friend who eats off your dinner plate.
So, here’s how to handle those annoying space invaders, courtesy of Real Simple magazine.
First: The annoying coworker. They read over your shoulder. They thumb through papers on your desk. Workplace expert Lois P. Frankel wrote the book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. And she says cubicles should be treated with the same respect as homes. You wouldn’t go into someone’s home and start reading their mail – so don’t do it at work. Frankel suggests posting a lighthearted sign that says, "Unless you plan on cleaning this desk, don’t touch anything!" If the nosy coworker doesn’t get the hint, say something like, "Can I help you? Those papers are private". Also, try personalizing your space. A few family photographs or mementos serve as subtle boundaries.
Space Invader #2: The acquaintance who always greets you with an unwelcome bear hug. Robert Sommer is a psychology professor and author of the book Personal Space.
And he says put your hand out before they get to you so they know you prefer a handshake. That’s what Oprah does. Or you can take a cue from the way people deal with uncomfortable closeness on public transportation - go rigid, avoid eye contact, look away and act like you’re busy. If it’s too late to stop the hugging, Sommer says use humor to make your feelings known. "You know Jack, someday you’re bound to break one of my bones. Maybe we can settle for a handshake until I start working out again".
And one last space invader: The friend who eats off your dinner plate. Do this: put a little of your meal on a bread dish for them and say, "This looks so good I have to share it. But that’s all you get because I’m starving!" That way you deal with the problem up front. If they start picking, simply say, "Excuse me, but the menu didn’t say this was a meal for two!" If you crack a joke, they’re less likely to get offended - but they WILL get the hint.