by Jeremy Pollack
Webb, C.E., Rossignac-Milon, M, & Higgins, E.T. (2017). Stepping forward together: Could walking facilitate interpersonal conflict resolution? American Psychologist, Volume 72, 374-385. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0040431.
This article examines how walking may be beneficial to not only an individual, but to multiple people involved in a conflict resolution process.
The article explores the fascinating concept that walking could be a unique and effective method of conflict resolution. The authors seek to answer the following:
The authors examined multiple studies that explain the known benefits of walking, colloquial terms in regards to walking that promote positive thinking, how moving together is known to be beneficial to people within a similar space, and how these all come together to influence positive conflict resolution among two people (if not a group of people).
The results show that walking is proven to offer many helpful benefits to a person, including positive thinking, a relaxed state, and creative thinking and problem solving. If used within conflict resolution processes, there is a potential for many positive outcomes amongst disputants. This is because walking can encourage a relaxed environment and posture (especially when in nature or fully removed from a tense space), encourages each individual to think in a way that indicates “moving forward,” and can allow for a common goal and place the disputants in sync — all of which are beneficial to conflict resolution.
For consultants: While it may not always be practical, perhaps suggesting your clients go on a walk together or being there as a mediator can be useful for a change of scenery and new process of thought.
For everyone: Walking has no downsides to your health and well-being. The next time you find yourself in a conflict, consider going on a walk to clear your head, or better yet, consider going on a walk with the person(s) you are in conflict with, in the hopes that the benefits of walking may be shared amongst you and promote new or creative ways to address the current situation. If nothing else, you may find that you are both less tense about the situation.
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