As we head into summer, consider scheduling a “walk and talk” to connect with a partner or close friend. Research shows that talking to someone while walking side-by-side lends itself to less eye contact. This reduces the stress in a conversation. According to couple’s therapist, Esther Perel, “When walking next to someone, a conversation becomes parallel play.” The dynamic is that both people are, “looking ahead yet connected by the exchange.”
Furthermore, walking makes it nearly impossible to persistently check our phones. Priya Parker, author of “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters,” says that walks lend themselves to more natural silence. Some of the greatest conversations follow a period of silence. She adds that silence can be its own form of intimacy for a couple.
While these walks should feel pressure-free, they can be maximized by considering a topic ahead of time. Some ideas include raising a struggle or discussing a memory. Another option that Perel offers to make walks more fun is to think of a prompt, for example:
- If my younger self could see me today, they would say…
- A trip that changed my life was…
- What’s a promise you wish you hadn’t broken?
A creative alternative posited by Parker is choosing a previously-unexplored area for a “wander walk.” The unfamiliarity of the surroundings encourages conversation topics that would not arise during a regular routine.
Embrace these positives and the beautiful weather, and schedule your walk and talk!