Let us walk...and talk
I hear people say that conversation is a lost art. They say people
come together and don't know what to do if their eyes aren't growing
glassy in front of a TV screen. It's true, conversation is a lost art,
but it's not the fault of the TV screens. There was another art lost
first that goes with talking the way peanut butter goes with jelly. That
art is walking.
Thinking, talking, and walking are inextricably linked through
history. It is only a recent idea that we meet around tables, seated in
chairs. Aristotle was said to walk as he taught, founding what we now
refer to as Ancient Greece's Peripatetic School of Philosophy.
Pic - Google Images
This name was derived from the colonnade or walkway in the Lyceum in
which he taught. The Sophists, philosophers predating Socrates, were
wanderers. They travelled place to place on foot delivering talks.
The average Sri Lankan sits 9 hours a day. This knowledge has
inspired a new wave of work life balance. 'Desk job' workers are
increasingly incorporating a healthier lifestyle at work: walking
meetings! This trend is slowly taking off and putting corporate workers
back in control of their health.
Walking for just 30 minutes can dramatically improve health and is a
simple preventative measure for dementia, breast cancer, colon cancer
and heart disease.
Along with health benefits, walking meetings have been shown to
increase creativity and productivity.
Walking meetings are a great step towards a better workday. A study
at Stanford discovered the positive effect walking meetings has on
creativity, finding that 81 percent of participants can come up with
more ideas after they walk. Additionally, the ideas people come up with
are more novel and appropriate to the situation.
What's even more interesting is, regardless of the location, walking
while chatting boosts creative inspiration.
The person walking either indoors (on a treadmill) or outdoors
'produced twice as many creative responses compared to a person sitting
Walking meetings are incorporated by some of the world's greatest
leaders and innovators. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Weiner are
all famous for their forward-thinking companies; however, what is less
known is their support and participation in walking meetings.
Historically, Sigmund Freud conducted training analyses through evening
Global corporate director Nilofer Merchant suggests conducting
one-on-one meetings as walking meetings.
As kids, we were all experts at walking while chatting. With a good
friend in tow, we could put our tongues and feet in gear and go.
Everywhere and nowhere, feet and conversation would take us on some
unexpectedly glorious adventures. We knew how to circle the same block
for years and still find something fresh to explore or to talk about.
When I was in school I expanded walking three kilometre trek from
home to the Bus stand (and back) every day. Even so, my walks lost none
ofits luster. I had a set of friends who accompanied me. We enjoyed
every metre of the journey and it was great way to start the day.
I know of a decent family leading an austere life. Two decades ago,
they did not have a private vehicle of their own. When the wife met her
husband,the highlight of their dates became walking to and from. Not
much conversation goes on during a movie or a rock concert, but on a
long walk, there's no way to get around it. When you take a walk with a
person, you really get to know him; there are no distractions to hide
Let us listen to her story in her own words. "The time finally
arrived when my husband and I became contributing members of society.
With the business of working and raising a family, the walking went
first, followed closely by the talking. So it went through the years
until one day in the January of 2004, when my three-year-old son watched
the other two children go off to school, then turned to me and offered
to take me for a walk."
"Like any child, he was an artful walker. He knew never to walk in a
straight line or in a continuous fashion; you must start, stop and
double back. Any clod of dirt requires thorough investigation. You must
assess its consistency, how far it can be kicked or thrown and whether,
after all this, it will fall apart or hold together. You have to collect
things too. Rocks, old bent nails and wilted flowers all make
wonderfulthings to. Rocks, old bent nails and wilted flowers all make
"After both of us began to make our walks a regular pastime, a
surprising thing happened. He learned to carry on an interesting
conversation. Then I understood what is meant by 'real' conversation.
Real conversation is when one person says something, the other listens,
considers and responds. This is repeated many times. I had thought my
son was too young and I too old for anything like that. I was really
"My son was full of questions and observations like, "How does your
food get all the way down to feed your toes?" Away from the distractions
of my work, and he from his toys, we were able to explore these profound
topics. We then began to include my five-year-old daughter when she came
home from school. We found out why people have bodies during one such
walk with her. It's to keep their heads from falling down to their
knees." She ends up the story. "My children are now grown up and busy
with their studies. My husband and I are continuing with our walks. The
children join us whenever they are free. It doesn't matter which
direction we head in or if we get anywhere in particular. The best part
is kicking up the dust as we amble through our conversations.We may not
be discovering much about road side nature, but we are discovering each