When you picture “sitting in a circle,” adults in professional dress probably aren’t the folks who spring to mind. You might instead imagine schoolchildren during reading time, or perhaps assembled for a round of duck-duck-goose. But, sitting in a circle isn’t just for kids. In fact, you should try to do it at work as much as you can. Whether we’re talking about a large meeting or a small casual lunch, here are a few reasons why sitting in a circle is a good move.
Whether you’re setting up tables for a meeting or for a casual conversation with a small team, it might be a good idea to steal a page from good ol’ King Arthur’s book and choose a rounded formation if you can. It’s excellent for team building. Because everyone can see and hear each other, this kind of set-up eases communication and boosts collaboration.
Research has shown that these arrangements encourage an attitude of support and togetherness, whereas a typical rectangular boardroom table (for example) lends itself toward more of a “look out for number one” approach.
“The geometric shape of a seating arrangement can act as a subtle environmental cue for people,” Professor Juliet Zhu of the UBC Sauder School of Business said, when discussing her research in a piece on the school’s website, “by priming their fundamental need for inclusiveness or individuality.”
This arrangement encourages more participation.
A circular seating arrangement isn’t hierarchical, so people are more likely to feel that they’re valued. They’re also more likely to feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Other arrangements compel the opposite response, like a setup where a speaker stands at the front of a room and addresses a group facing toward him. It’s easier to contribute in a circular formation. Also, this arrangement helps people feel that they’re expected to contribute — that their opinions are valuable. There’s a relationship between feeling valued and being engaged. So, if you want more participation from group members and higher levels of engagement, try sitting in a circle and see what happens.
It promotes a positive company culture.
This kind of seating arrangement doesn’t just impact one meeting, eventually it can start to have an impact on the culture of the company. It can have a powerful effect on a group, because this kind of seating arrangement promotes a collective mindset. Over the long term, this helps employees feel valued, which is good for job satisfaction and loyalty.
It also helps to create community, which is one of the company traits employees value. Folks want to feel connected to something bigger than themselves, and like they’re a part of something that extends beyond their own job title and description. Circular seating does more than shift just that one discussion — it helps to lay the groundwork for a more positive, and more connected, company culture.
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