woman hugging a white horse

The Business Wisdom of Horses: Lessons in Communication and Feedback

Horses, despite their imposing size, are fascinating creatures as they are prey animals. This means that in the wild, they are hunted and eaten by other animals.

On the other hand, humans are predators by nature, with eyes positioned in the front of our heads and a tendency to face each other directly when communicating. Interestingly, these differences in communication styles between predators and prey can offer valuable insights into the business world.

The Predatory Nature of Humans

As humans, our design and nature align more with the traits of predators. Our eyes are positioned in the front of our heads, providing depth perception and focus on our target. When we communicate, we tend to face each other directly, shoulder to shoulder. This stance, while natural for us, can sometimes be intimidating or confrontational, especially when giving feedback or having difficult conversations.

The Importance of Angle in Communication

In the business world, the angle at which we position ourselves during conversations can significantly impact the tone and effectiveness of our communication. Rather than facing each other head-on, which can feel confrontational, adopting a slight angle, such as 45 degrees, creates a more open and non-threatening environment. Here’s why this matters:

1. Openness and Acceptance

   Standing or sitting at a 45-degree angle during a conversation conveys openness and acceptance. It signals to the other person that you are not in an attack or confrontational mode, making it easier for them to receive feedback or engage in discussions.

2. Reducing Intimidation

   When we face each other directly, it can feel like a challenge or confrontation, even if that’s not the intention. By positioning ourselves at an angle, we reduce the sense of intimidation and create a more collaborative atmosphere.

3. Encouraging Conversations

   This subtle shift in angle encourages more open and productive conversations. People feel less trapped or confronted, allowing for a freer flow of ideas and feedback. It promotes a sense of partnership rather than opposition.

Applying Horse Wisdom in Business

Even in my previous career, I always made sure to arrange seating at a 45-degree angle during meetings. This simple adjustment had a profound impact on the tone of our discussions. Rather than feeling like adversaries, we approached challenges as a team, looking forward to what lay ahead.

Lessons from the Herd

In a herd of horses, communication is also subtle and nuanced. They often stand side to side, facing the same direction, which allows them to be aware of their surroundings and potential threats. This translates well into the business world:

1. Awareness of Surroundings

   Just as horses remain aware of their surroundings, businesses must stay attuned to market changes and industry trends. Standing side by side in communication fosters a shared awareness of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

2. Planning for the Future

   When horses stand side by side, they are not only vigilant but also ready to move forward together. In business, this stance encourages forward-thinking and collaborative planning for the future.

3. Creating a Non-Threatening Environment

   Similar to the angled communication stance, standing side by side promotes a non-threatening environment where ideas can flow freely. It fosters a sense of unity and teamwork.

Conclusion: Communication that Resonates

In the world of business, effective communication is the cornerstone of success. By adopting subtle adjustments inspired by the communication styles of horses, we can create an environment where feedback is received openly, ideas are exchanged freely, and collaboration thrives. So, the next time you find yourself in a challenging conversation, remember the wisdom of horses – stand at a slight angle, stay aware of your surroundings, and move forward together.