What is it about?

Walking meetings are a simple way to incorporate physical activity into the workday. Can they also improve meeting outcomes? Pairs of men and pairs of women completed a complex negotiation task while either walking outdoors or sitting in a room. At the end, walking pairs liked each other more than sitting pairs. Women benefited the most from walking. The women had less negative feelings and reached better parity in negotiation outcomes.

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Why is it important?

We add to the work that identifies which work tasks may benefit from walking. For meetings where differences in power can affect someone's performance, such as negotiation, we showed a proof-of-concept that women walking together outside, side by side, may be a way to help put them on more equal footing, yielding less negative feelings and more balanced negotiation results. An untested possibility could be these mutually positive results may spill over to improve future negotiations between the two parties. This was a small proof-of-concept study, there is future work to be done!


What I loved about this project is the sheer range of disciplines and experts who contributed to the study. This was an example of truly interdisciplinary science, where each investigator had a unique contribution of wisdom, skill, and perspective. Dr. Neale is one of the top researchers and professors in negotiation, and has even written books on the topic. She also created the unique job negotiation measure used for this study, which, due to its realistic incorporation of multiple issues and different personal values for issues, has been utilized in a huge range of studies on negotiation. Dr. Palaniappan is a physician and researcher who specializes in Asian subgroup health and physical activity research- and was daring and curious enough to take on such a unique study outside of the norm in medicine to see if how we might incorporate physical activity into otherwise sedentary workplaces. Dr Schwartz is a top educational psychologist who was creative enough to think about how our findings showing walking improving creative thinking might translate to more practical tasks, especially ones that require multiple solutions or perspectives. Dr. Prochaska is a clinical psychologist who studies how to get people to change multiple health behaviors, and also excellent at study design; she provided her clinical and research expertise to imagine how this work could help improve work cultures. Dr. Gross is a renowned psychologist who studies emotions, superb writer, and clear thinker who helped with the writing and framing of the manuscript. Finally, Dr. Aikens is an excellent biostatistician, clear and stellar educator, and statistical guru who was always there to help with great patience, knowledge, and generosity.

Marily Oppezzo
Stanford University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Moving outside the board room: A proof-of-concept study on the impact of walking while negotiating, PLoS ONE, March 2023, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0282681.
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