For a Better Conversation, Take It Outside

Chatting amid the trees can lower stress and make it easier to open up. Tropical studio/Shutterstock

If you want to have a meaningful chat, head for the great outdoors.

A new study looked at conversations between parents and their little kids when they explored a city park as well as an indoor education center. They found that their communication was much more "responsive and connected" when they were outdoors versus when they were talking inside.

Researchers from The University of Manchester and Cardiff University recorded conversations between parents and their 3- and 4-year-olds. They focused on children that age because they typically have a lot to say, but often it can be challenging to hold a conversation with them, researchers said.

But being outside seemed to help.

"Our research demonstrates that natural environments can significantly enhance social interactions, in this case improving the quality of parent-child conversations," study co-author Thea Cameron-Faulkner, senior lecturer in linguistics at The University of Manchester, said in a statement. The study was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

Researchers said there was "significant" improvement in conversations held outside, but aren't sure why they flowed better or why children were more forthcoming in these discussions.

One explanation, they say, is that being outside in nature eases stresses and creates a more positive mood for both children and adults, creating a better atmosphere for easier conversation, reports the Daily Mail.

Another explanation is that being outside may "promote greater levels of attention between individuals" and creates "a greater sense of connection" with other people.

"One of the most challenging aspects of conversations is listening and responding to what other people say," said study co-author professor Merideth Gattis from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology. "The results of our study suggest that one simple way for people to improve this process is to spend time outdoors in natural environments."