We’ve all heard the phrase, “personal space.” Wikipedia defines personal space as “the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs. Most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger, or anxiety when their personal space in encroached.”
Who of us have not felt the discomfort of someone invading what we perceive as our personal space? And what distance from a person is that border – that invisible fence – the stay-this-far-away-from-me property line? It’s not an easy question to answer since – to be totally honest – it really varies from person to person.
That’s the dilemma professional auctioneers and other benefit hosts face during a fundraising event. They are constantly asking themselves, “How close can I get to a bidder without making him or her uncomfortable?”
I wish I had a definitive answer. I can only tell you that you have to be constantly aware of a person’s body language. You must know how to read their signs. And then hope that your “I’ll-pat-you-on-the-back” or your “stay-this-far-away” calculations are correct.
My experience tells me the more fun a person is having the closer you can approach them. Those that are having fun – and enjoy being the center of temporary attention – usually don’t have a problem with an auctioneer being by their side. In a way, having the emcee of the event near or in their personal space, helps to shine a brighter light on the bidder. They truly enjoy the spotlight and their participation adds to the fun factor and entertainment of the event.
On the other hand, some bidders prefer to remain hidden in the shadows and are uncomfortable with any notoriety. Again, by reading their body language – if you feel any negative vibes – if he or she avoids eye contact – you should instinctively stay a distance away.
Every crowd is different and every person is different. Defining a person’s personal space – their approachability – takes keen observation. It’s a skill that can be learned, but it does take time. Remember, “When in doubt – from his or her personal space stay out.”
In a future blog we’ll discuss another dilemma that faces a benefit auctioneer – when to push or not push a bidder to a higher bid.
© 2013 Scott Robertson Auctioneers. All Rights Reserved. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without express written consent of the author.