Quality Time or Quantity Time? (Good relationships need both.)

Musing for:

Quality Time or Quantity Time?

Of all the false dichotomies and logical fallacies that I’ve faced over my career, this is one that seems to keep coming up. Which is more important in building relationships? Is it the quantity of time that I spend with a person, or is it the quality of the time we have together?

I just heard a coach trainer claim that most people think the quantity is most important, but it’s really the quality that’s most important. I’ve heard other experts make just the opposite claim.

This is one of those truths that doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about professional work relationships or personal family relationships. Building a strong connection demands both quantity and quality.

You can’t make up for keeping your nose in your phone simply by spending more time within the same four walls with another person.

By the same token, you can’t make up for recurring weeks or months of absence simply by concentrating your attention on someone for a whole day.

So what’s a good rule of thumb?

Details will certainly depend on what kind of relationships it is, and specifics of your situation. But here’s a structure that seems to show up in several different places:

1️⃣ Concentrated, dedicated time every week

2️⃣ Frequent, casual moments in between

At work, that will mean a weekly one-on-one with your key peers or with anyone you directly manage, along with engaging in pleasantries before and after meetings, in the hallway, or in the group messaging app for remote workers.

At home, that may look like a weekly date night. This doesn’t have to be something you spend money on. My wife and I are currently going through an “ABC Dates” challenge, where each date night (or day) starts with a different letter of the alphabet. And it may be something like reading an e-book together for “e” or going on a hike for “h.”

And while those alphabet dates aren’t every week, we will frequently just go for a walk around the block together or find other ways to be in casual conversation. When our kids were young, we would each try to spend one-on-one time with each of them as well. I’ll admit we weren’t quite as frequent as once per week.

But regardless of the specifics of your situation, don’t get caught in the trap of deciding whether quality or quantity is more important when developing relationships. Look for ways to invest in both.

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