In a recent post by Geoff Sharp in his blog Mediator Blah Blah he identified new research that shows that body movements can affect the way you think. In the study, the researchers were asking participants to figure a way to tie two pieces of string together.  The researchers theorized that the different body movements will help the brain to activate problem solving mechanisms.  They concluded that having people swing their arms back and forth versus simply stretching the arms would increase the likelihood that the participants would come to a resolution of the problem (which required swinging of the string).  They explained that “By making you swing your arms in a particular way, we’re activating a part of your brain that deals with swinging motions,” Lleras said. “That sort of activity in your brain then unconsciously leads you to think about that type of motion when you’re trying to solve the problem.”

This research reiterates my thought process tha physicality is related to mental processes.

For example, I often will ask the parties or their counsel to take a walk with me when we reach an impasse.  Anecodotally, I have found that by getting the participanets out of their chair, they are more receptive to resolution than when they are seated.

Sometimes in the middle of the mediation, I will get the participants or their lawyers to meet together on a procedural issue to try and create a connection between them.  Perhaps the physicality of the meeting and working together helps.

In other cases, I will offer that the parties can play various games that are in my conference room such as darts, golf, sand garden maintenance, and others.  All of these things are done to help them get their mind away from conflict and towards more peaceful pursuits.

Apparently my anecodotal experience has been confirmed by the research.  Maybe I should ask the parties to dance to a romantic melody next time?