For Discussions on Difficult Issues, Try Walking Meetings



Sometimes people in business need a creative place at which to have productive conversations that are in out-of-the-ordinary locations. They allow for a fresh perspective.

Perhaps you have an employee whom you need to counsel. Or you might have a peer that needs encouragement.

For such occasions, discussions in the office, conference room or coffee shop are simply too mundane. That’s when I especially recall advice once given me by a beloved mentor in the early 1980s.

businessmen-428386_1280He had a doctorate in nuclear physics from an Ivy League school, was an advisor to the Pentagon and a television network. He knew more about human nature than anyone I’ve ever met.

Our first profound meeting was literally a walk to a park near the Pacific Ocean on a foggy Saturday morning.

Among his many valuable tips was the principle of contrary action.

He recommended the principle of contrary action – he suggested keeping a mental record of everything I do. He further advised me to keep doing things differently each and every time.

He said practicing the principle of contrary action would teach me how to keep an open mind.

My reward? As a result, I learned how to keep an open mind, which is critical for creativity and problem-solving.

So take contrary action in deciding where to have important meetings.

For such situations – when creativity is needed or a problem needs solving, a walking meeting works perfectly. It’s less stressful and leads to candid discussions.

In other words, it can be inspiring. There’s something about taking a walk in fresh air that leads to creative thinking, and a more honest exchange with people.

You’ll also find that people, who are open to walking meetings, are more open-minded and enlightened.

For productive walking meetings, here are four tips:

1. Keep the meeting small

A walking meeting is more successful for two, maybe three people. Any more than that and you will risk losing focus.

2. Consider a destination

Whether you suggest taking a walk around the block or to a specific destination, people are more open to the idea. And most everyone appreciate the suggestion to go outside.

3. Keep it healthy

Avoid the idea of walking to get a snack. The goal should be a productive chat. But a walk to buy a 500-calorie latte’ or snack doesn’t work. The snack becomes the topic and doesn’t lead to a healthy objective.

4. Know the purpose of a walk

If you’re a boss, it’s OK to extemporaneously suggest a walk to a subo1. rdinate. It’s also OK to suggest it to a peer or subordinate, but if the person is busy be ready to accept a decline to your invitation.

If it’s for a longer walk, suggest the idea in advance so both of you will be wearing comfortable shoes.

Oh, and if you have to decide solo on a subject, a walk by yourself will do wonders. Just don’t walk around in circles.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s a Wall Street Journal video with more walking-meeting tips:

Here are more communication tips:

Tips for Productive Meetings to Improve Performance — Here’s a checklist to engage your employees in energetic, inspiring staff meetings that will increase profits.

Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships with Effective Meetings — Signs you have good client relationships: They’ll thank you regularly, pay your invoices promptly, and will respond well to your recommendations. If you don’t have all three of these, here’s what to do.

Consulting: Effective Management of Difficult Clients — Start with this premise: You should be focused on the continuous, improvement and performance of your firm. If you have difficult clients, here’s what you can do about it.

Consultants – Helping Clients Deal with an Emotional Crisis — No matter what kind of a consulting practice you have, it’s sometimes necessary to help clients deal emotionally with a business crisis. If you’re a management consultant and you’ve branded yourself well, the clients see you as a trusted confidante and visionary.

Advice for Men: How to Manage Women Employees — You must exercise due diligence to motivate talented employees and retain them for an efficient and productive workplace. But many male managers unwittingly mismanage their female employees.

A Top Marketing Goal: Enhance Your Internal Communication — Businesses have two communication sources that are expenses that conversely are sources of profit – the external marketplace – and internal, their human capital. But all your money poured into marketing doesn’t accomplish much unless you devote equal resources to employee programs.

6 Top Tips for Etiquette in Business Travel — If you’re into people-watching, the airport is an entertaining place to be. You’ll see all kinds of personalities. That’s especially true for the wide variety of business travelers. For successful trips, business travelers share one common trait. They need to be mindful of business etiquette.

“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”

-Robert Frost


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.