A to Z Dear Jack 19 | “Squished in Seat 23B”

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Dear Xochitl and Jack,

I recently found myself in an awkward situation on a flight. The passenger next to me seemed to have no qualms about invading my personal space. Not only did they let their arm spill into my seat area, but they also seemed completely oblivious to the discomfort they were causing. How can I address this issue without turning a cramped flight into a confrontation at 30,000 feet?


Squished in Seat 23B

“Qualms” refers to feelings of doubt, hesitation, or uneasiness, especially when it comes to moral or ethical considerations. If someone has “no qualms” about something, it means they have no reservations or hesitations about doing it, often implying a lack of concern for potential negative consequences or ethical considerations. In the context of your question, if a passenger has “no qualms” about invading personal space, it means they are doing so without any apparent hesitation or consideration for the discomfort it may cause.

“Invading personal space” refers to encroaching upon the physical or psychological space that individuals consider their own. This space varies between cultures and individuals, but it generally includes an invisible boundary around a person that, when breached, can cause discomfort or unease. Physical invasion of personal space might include standing too close, touching without permission, or, as in your scenario, allowing body parts to spill over into an adjacent seat on an airplane. It’s a social norm to respect personal space to ensure the comfort and well-being of those around us. When this space is invaded, it can lead to feelings of discomfort or frustration.

“Confrontation” refers to a face-to-face meeting or conflict, often characterized by disagreement, argument, or even a hostile encounter. In interpersonal situations, a confrontation occurs when individuals address a problem, disagreement, or issue directly with each other. Confrontations can be assertive and constructive, aiming to resolve conflicts and improve understanding, or they can be confrontational in a negative sense, involving hostility and aggression.

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