Seeking to define the survey terms of Gap and Overlap reminds me of what a colleague once said: “You know how on the East Coast people are up in your face and gruff, sometimes mean even? Well, they don’t mean it. Similarly, you know how people on the West Coast are pleasant and kind to each other? Well, they don’t mean it, either.”

He said: “But, back in the Midwest people do and say what they mean.”

These are the unwritten rules of engagement. The coastal rules are just like the survey concepts: Gap and Overlap.

A Gap occurs when the legal descriptions of neighboring properties do not match … and there is space – i.e. land – in between. Get it … a “gap.”

An Overlap is exactly the opposite, and it occurs when the legal descriptions of adjoining properties do not come flush to each other, and each legal description includes a portion of the other. It’s like that space in the middle of a Venn Diagram, which demonstrates where two concepts are combined.

How This Relates to Interpersonal Interactions

On the East Coast people are “up in your face.” It’s a culture of overlap. Basically, people move in quickly and find out where each other stands by trespassing upon each other’s spaces. Then they can back off and identify a line. Essentially there has been a double-crossing by both people, which forms awareness of boundaries. Afterwards everyone’s cool … or not. But the society gets on because everyone knows how to play the game.

On the West Coast, especially here where we have the phenomenon of Seattle Nice, people hesitate to engage with people they don’t know – at all.  So we play nicey-nicey and get past any interactions so we can get the transaction done – and that’s it.

Notice the quickness here. It’s like communication triage.

Let’s try the Midwest model where people say what they mean. Come to a peaceable understanding of the real boundary so everyone wins. Document it. Record it. Move on with life.