Years ago while I was finishing my business studies at the WU Wien I had the privilege to attend a Strategic Management class held by the Director of McKinsey's Vienna Office. After a few years of attending classes held by gray-haired theoretic masterminds, this class was something completely different as every lesson was full of real-life examples and best practices.
I remember that one day someone asked the McKinsey guy about how strategy consultants deal with their clients' resistance and hesitation to share full information or adopt a different perspective on an important business issue. While every one of us young, ambitious students was expecting the answer to be a sophisticated process or a misterious technique, his reply to us came as a surprise. He said: „Sometimes the best thing we can do to establish full rapport with our clients is also the simplest: go hiking with them. In McKinsey we call it Nordic Talking.“
I can still recall my initial surprise and realising how things in life and business can be very simple and how prone we all are to complicating them. Today, as a business coach and explorer of the human mind, I am very excited to discover multiple layers of how the body and mind are connected and how we can use this knowledge to accomplish better results in our lives.
Here are some reasons why walking during a coaching or a consulting session can help you come to better outcomes:
1. A different setting triggers a different state
It is well known that certain places triggers certain states, emotions and mental strategies in our mind and body. That's why psychologists advise us to have a dedicated place for studying, working, sleeping etc.; because our brains simply work that way. While walking your talk, you are in a far more relaxed setting and your brain will not start its auto-pilot of job-related thoughts and emotions.
2. Body movement ® Positive body chemistry ® Better state ® Better thinking
As simple as that: our state determines our performance. Science proves that movement boosts creativity and problem solving. For instance, Steve Jobs was known for walking while having serious conversations with his Team. So, if you want to maximize your (or your client's) chances for coming to a breakthrough, you better get out of that chair.
3. Walking together erases face-to-face tension
You know how sitting face to face may increase tension and make even the shortest silence feel awkward. When on the other hand your client is walking, he is relaxed and focused on his thinking and much less on the coach/consultant. Bringing your clients in this state enables them a greater approach to their ressources to solve the problem.
4. Rapport: Synchronised body movements boost rapport
Rapport is a state in which there is mutual trust, attention and openness between two parties. One of the main signs that we are in rapport with someone is that our bodies are synched. It is useful to know that rapport works also the other way round; if we carefully synchronize our body movements with the other party, we are in the flow with them,i.e. we are connected. And I can't think of a better way to achieve synchronized physiology than walking together. Not only are your steps and body movements synched, but your breathing is also fully synched!
In my executive coaching practice I refer to the Nordic Talking as Walking Coaching and it has proven to be a great tool to enable my clients to gain a different perspective and come to deeper insights.
So, no matter whether you are a leader, manager, coach or consultant, always bear in mind that your state of mind is strongly connected to your physiology. Hence, if you can improve your or your client's physiology, you are very likely to improve your thinking as well!
How and with whom you will chose to test this fact now, I leave it up to you...
If you are interested in maximizing your performance in business and life, join our NLP Business Leader program starting in Zagreb this autumn. For more info browse our website and drop us a message!