Walking The Dog
You might think this post would pertain mostly to people who walk their dog. And you wouldn't be wrong. But you wouldn't be right either This post is for anyone who takes a walk or travels from point A to point B and then back again.
Since the post is titled Walking the Dog I will use that experience to share something I've learned about how to have a meaningful conversation. My wife and I don’t always walk our dog together, but we do so as often as we can. We usually go the same route, but sometimes we go someplace new or take a less-travelled path. When we walk there is usually a point at which we turn around and head home. In our case we consider that the halfway point. It is not always easy to determine exactly where the halfway point is, but for the purposes of doing the suggested exercise in this post, try to approximate when you are in the middle of your walk. You don’t have to be exact about it, but do your best to acknowledge to each other when you are at that halfway point.
My suggestion is best used when you are walking with someone, but you can apply the practice even if you are alone or in a group.
Once we leave the house, my wife can talk about anything she wants until we get to the midway point. At that point I get to speak about whatever I want. When my wife is talking my job is to listen. Sure, I interrupt now and then, ask a question or add a thought. But, I endeavor not to take the emphasis away from her. If I disagree about something she has said I can ask if I can share my view and if not, I can bring it up when it is my turn.
We’ve found this model to be very helpful to us. We usually walk right before sunset so we talk about our days and things on our mind. Since we walk together more often than not we are pretty up to date on what is going on with each other’s life.
In the self-help world there are many variations on back and forth discussions. Some people recommend an egg timer. I like the walking the dog approach because it gives us sufficient time to talk and we are not in the house thinking of something we could be doing. Walking the dog is the thing we need/want to do, so our focus is not as swayed as it can be at home.
If you have no dog and no walking partner, you can use the first half of your walk to talk how you feel/think about the day and how your life is going. On the second half you can talk about what you want to do going forward.
Make the walk your own and divide it as you will, but the main point I want to encourage as that you each have time to speak about what is important to you without the other interrupting and taking the focus away from you. So often conversations get interrupted and you go off on tangents. Giving one person the primary focus allows for a more leisurely exploration of topics of interest/concern to each person.
Walk and talk the walk.