Is your relationship on "clock time" or "event time"?

Are you always checking the time?  Do you jump to conclusion based on first impressions?  Do you tend to panic when you find yourself in a difficult situation?  It could be you’re working on “clock time”.  There is another way.

Clock time vs Event time

Clock time is about efficiency.  It is about productivity, based on optimal use of time, cost and energy.  All around us we’re encouraged to be efficient, to get it done, fast.  Time’s a wasting.  Time is money. Do more with less.  Pack it all in!

We’ve been primed to accept clock time as a measurement of our success.  Over a hundred years ago, Frederick Winslow Taylor, the father of scientific management, showed us the way to industrial efficiency.  Though we not be quite so anal when it comes to keeping time on the job, the message still lingers.

Event time on the other hand is about effectiveness.  It is about persuasion, about the power to produce a desired result, in sync with your intention and action.  Mediator colleague, Jason Dykstra, explains the intent/action/effect dynamic, nicely, here.  Effectiveness means being complete, even if it takes longer.  Are you paying me because of the value I bring (my whole person) to you and your organization or are you paying me based on the number of hours I worked, value or not.

Where I live, clock time tends to prevail.  And yet, event time has been and remains common in many different cultures and circumstances.

When it comes to relationships

What do you care more about: efficiency or effectiveness?

Of course, it’s not an either/or equation.  We all know the do it efficiently and effectively mantra.  In the mix of the two, though, which is your priority?  It’s a matter of degree.

You’re heading out on a first date; what are you thinking, clock or event, efficiency or effectiveness?  Are you feeling pressed to say the right thing, be so cool?  Why not leave the essence of your first date to, Do I want a second date?

You’ve started work with a new business partner; what are you thinking, clock or event?  If you’re goal is sustainability, you should be focused on the big event, the long-term relationship.  That doesn’t mean sacrificing financial common sense. Stacey Toews of Level Ground Trading maintains the essence of sustainability is long-term relationships.  I’ve used his maxim ever since.

You’re mediating a team conflict; what are you thinking, clock or event?  Are you balancing the fact and emotion of the moment with the need for future relationship?

What’s time? Leave Now for dogs and apes! Man has forever. (Robert Browning)


Distractions come easy these days.  Feel time flying by? I know I do. Are you working effectively, bringing value, to that event, your relationship?  Are you absolutely sure about that?  Here’s a suggestion.  Keep a daily journal.  Each day track how many hours you worked that day.  In addition, track how many of those hours you actually worked, focused on your event, whatever it is.  Like me, I expect you may be surprised at the ratio, too many clock, too few event.

How are you doing with navigating the clock and event, in your relationships?  Do you have a recipe to share?

Image source: brandoncwarren (Flickr)

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