Going for walks. Painting, baking, colouring, playing with lego, harvesting vegetables. Doing these types of activities with another person often leads to different types of conversations. Our friend Martin calls them side by side conversations. There is something magical about physical tasks in how they create spaces for conversations that don’t happen during intentional ‘sit downs’. It likely has to do with that they are less intense environments, less pressurised.
The ‘magic’ works with children and adults. Not all the time, but often enough that it is talked about. However, it is often talked about in relationship and parenting resources, not in organisation and business books.
And yet, change is often about things not said. Change, or at least significant change, tends to be intense. And we tend to have ‘intense’ meetings to talk about it, announce it. These formal times are important and needed, but they can’t be the only space we create. Just like in our relationships, some of the best and most important conversations are ‘side-by-side’ conversations, we need to figure out how to create space for them in our workplaces.
Sometimes these conversations lead to insights about what others think and feel. But more often than not, they are simply moments together which build trust. They are moments where we are seen and we see the other. And without this ‘seeing’, lasting change rarely happens.
The challenge for us all now is how to do this while working remotely.