Did you know that all human beings have a "comfort zone" regulating the distance they stand from someone when they talk? This distance varies in interesting ways among people of different cultures.
Greeks, some of the Eastern Mediterraneen, and many of those from South America normally stand quite close together when they talk, often moving their faces even closer as they warm up in a conversation. North Americans find this awkward and often back away a few inches. Studies have found that they tend to feel most comfortable at about 21 inches apart. In much of Asia and Mrica, there's even more space between two speakers in conversation. This greater space subtly lends an air of dignity and respect. This matter of space is nearly always unconscious, but it is interesting to observe.
This difference applies also to the closeness with which people sit together, the extent to which they lean over one another in conversation, how they move as they argue or make an emphatic (强调的) point. In the United States, for example, people try to keep their bodies apart even in a crowded elevator, in Paris they take it as it comes!
Although North Americans have a relatively wide" comfort zone" for talking, they communicate a great deal with their hands--not only with gesture but also with touch. They put a sympathetic hand on a person' s shoulder to demonstrate warmth of feeling, or an arm around him in sympathy; they pat an arm in reassurance(放心)or stroke a child's head in fondness; they readily take someone's arm to help him across a street or direct him along an unfamiliar mute. To many people -- especially those from Asia or the Moslem(穆斯林) countries--such bodily contact is unwelcome, especially if done with the left hand. The left hand carries no special significance in the U. S. Many Americans are simple left and use that hand more.
In terms of bodily distance, North Americans ______.