The Psychology of Walking

Or   Walk This Way


This is based entirely on a workshop session that was run by a friend of mine, so all is attributed to him; though I'm not sure what his original source was. The rest of this is my own theory and speculation.

If you are a naturally observant person (or just very, very bored) you may have noticed something about the way we walk. In a crowded setting, when two people walk directly at one another, a miniature game of "mental chicken" occurs and one person will give way to the other. What I found really interesting is that this process isn't random: certain people give way most of the time and certain people just don't.

This is what I learnt in the workshop: people that exude an aura of confidence rarely have to give way. If you strut, people will recognise this and part like the red sea. All you have to do is walk upright, keep your back straight, chin up, eyes front and think confidence. Personally, I've noticed that I fall into the group of people that give way, despite being a bit physically imposing. It's my personality: I'm not naturally very confident or extroverted and I dislike drawing attention to myself -- hence I sidestep and give way in such situations.

It's always possible to change, of course. All you have to do is try to act with confidence, throw caution to the wind, look like you mean it and just walk. I've been making a conscious effort not to give way when I walk, but there seems to be a highly-developed sixth sense that acts like a big neon sign above my head, proclaiming: "This guy will give way!" So far, I've bumped into about seventeen people in the street, just because I kept walking when they thought that I'd move. I obviously look like someone who'll give way but then surprise the crap out of them when I don't: it screws up their waydar. Sooner or later, you build up a "don't fuck with me" aura and can stride through pretty much anything. I'm still nursing a very bruised shoulder, though, so I suggest you practice before attempting to walk through walls.

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