Mark Zuckerberg celebrates hiring of judicial personalities taking them on scenic hikes near Facebook (now Meta) headquarters. Steve Jobs and Jony Ive apparently came up with the design for the iMac G4 while stroll in a flower garden. “Taking a long walk was his (Jobs’) favorite way to have a serious conversation,” Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson wrote.
There are several reasons why these tech legends might be onto something with their love of walk meetings. As I previously explained here on Inc.com, research shows that walking is great for your creativity (and, of course, your health). Nature everywhere is ideal for your mental well-being. And combining the two while walking in nature even helps keep your brain young.
But according to research, there’s yet another reason why you might want to add a few extra hikes to your schedule. Walking outdoors with other people, according to several recent studies, is a particularly effective way to connect with people. Jobs and Zuckerberg clearly knew what they were doing when they laced up their hiking boots for some of their trickiest and most important conversations.
Walk towards closer relationships.
In a recent review of all the mental and physical benefits of hikingUC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center highlights recent science showing the bonding power of walking the hiking trail with others.
“In a study, mothers and daughters who spent 20 minutes walking in an arboretum (compared to a shopping mall) not only showed better attention during a cognitive task, but also improved their interactions with each other, according to evaluators independent. Specifically, they demonstrated more connection and positive emotions and less negative emotions after walking in the natural setting,” writes Jill Suttie of the Center.
This suggests that you might want to take your mom on a Mother’s Day hike. But the interpersonal benefits of hiking aren’t limited to talking through family conflict. “Other to research suggests that exposure to nature can help our relationships by making us more empathetic, helpful and generous,” Suttie continues, suggesting that the bonding power of hikes can help you close business deals as well as heal the wounds of childhood.
This ties in with other recent research showing that when you’re faced with conflict, getting up and moving together is often much more effective than locking yourself in a room and trying to break the deadlock. Studies have shown that moving around helps us get out of mental ruts so we can see problems in a new light.
All of this suggests that entrepreneurs might consider following Jobs and Zuckerberg’s lead and investing in a sturdy pair of walking shoes. The next time you’re faced with a tricky interpersonal issue – whether it’s closing a deal, recruiting top talent, developing a strategy or a new design – consider having that crucial conversation during hike. You may find that both of you are more open, creative, and empathetic when walking in nature.