When Sitting Still is NOT the Way to Go

Research on how to teach children with ADHD is unanimous.

Let them move.

“Patients and teachers need to stop telling children to sit still,” says Dr. Julie Schweitzer, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the MIND Institute with the University of California in Davis. While Schweitzer acknowledges that physical activity can be disruptive to others, “we need to find ways to integrate socially appropriate ways of moving.”

True for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). True for many business situations, as well.

Moving increases alertness, so the theory goes, when you have ADHD.

Our ability to stay alert is, of course, a key factor in completing any business task, as well. How often have you sat in a meeting and thought to yourself this conversation is going nowhere? Quite possibly, the conversation isn’t moving because no one present is physically moving.

Mental energy gets stuck because physical energy is non-existent.

Alertness patrol to the rescue.

So what are some socially appropriate ways of moving in a business meeting?

  1. Establish explicit movement norms.Create a collectively agreed-upon standard for physical activity during a meeting. Turn your meetings into standing, not sitting meetings. Encourage participants to get up and move whenever their attention is waning. Make physical stretching an expected behavior. Go for collective walks during portions of a meeting, especially when solving problems in small break-out pairs or trios. Move!

  2. Integrate movement rituals into your meeting.When you play a sport or work out with a trainer, you begin with a warm-up. You may end with a cool-down activity. Start your meetings with a series of quick collective stretches. 1-2 minutes, no longer. End your meetings with a series of stress-releasing sounds or movements. Call for a stretch break whenever energy is waning. Perform your movement rituals in unison. They will help you to “be in sync.” And they will be fun. Fun is a powerful motivating energy.

  3. Harness the fidgeting instinct.Because we tend to only intermittently chime in during a meeting, it is near impossible to not get restless. Encourage fidgeting during the listening portions of a meeting. Provide toys, koosh balls, play dough, crayons, lego pieces to help express the fidgeting energy. Not only does focused fidgeting help us stay alert, it also fosters creative thinking. And isn’t that something you want in all of your meetings?

It is so simple, isn’t it? Want more mental agility in your business conversations? Encourage physical agility. Make it part of your meeting culture. Move!

The rewards will far outweigh the effort.

And you suddenly have a few guilty pleasures to look forward to, every day.