October 1, 2014

Walking to improve relationships

Recently I wrote about the creativity enhancing effect of walking. In that article I referred to research which showed that walking (especially outdoors) makes it easier to generate ideas. I also mentioned that this effect continues for a while when you site down after your walk. This week I spoke about this with a client and she told me that she had used walking to improve her relationship with one of her team members. When I asked her how walking had helped her to do that she said that walking had been helpful because while walking you are moving and you don't have to look at each other all the time.

When she said that I thought about a study which I had read about a few days earlier. Matias Baltazar and his colleagues found that making eye contact can make people more aware of their own body. I wondered whether eye contact could make difficult conversations even more difficult because of this. Might people find it harder to focus on the topic at hand because they are distracted by the thought of their body?

I did not mention this thought but asked her a question instead. I asked how the moving and not having to look at each other had helped in their conversation. She told me that the fact that they were moving and not looking at each other had made it easier to have moments of silence. The things you and see while you are walking give you some good excuses to drop some silences without them being awkward. These moments of silence give you an opportunity to think calmly. While sitting at a table it is often much harder to allow for such moments of silence.

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