Updated: Nov 19, 2022
The four-minute principle centers around the first four minutes you spend with someone.
It has a priming effect. If you add quality, you get more of that same quality.
The first four minutes can prime the rest of your time with that person or activity. This principle can apply to homework, working out, completing a task, a project, or connecting with someone -- no matter if it's the grocery store line, a date, or a more integrated relationship, like marriage or parenting.
How to successfully do the four-minute principle:
The key to the four-minute principle is to be present. If you are aware and focused on the person in front of you, you will know how to respond, how to connect, and how to support them.
An added bonus: If you can also show this person how much you care, where appropriate, you will find that it adds to the overall connection that can occur the rest of the time that you do have together.
For example, when your spouse gets home from work, how do you greet them? What do you do? How do you treat them? How do you listen? The first four minutes will set the tone for the rest of the evening.
If you are busy and cranky: you are telling your spouse, you do not make time for them and they are already 10 minutes too late. This could lead to a contentious evening where both spouses feel undervalued and underappreciated.
OPPOSITE: You are present and focused: You greet your spouse with pleasantness, you both make eye contact and embrace each other, you will see that there is a natural affection flowing between you both. Listen and continue to focus on them. your dishes, laundry, and the other priorities can wait. They really can wait 3 more minutes. Stay in tune with each other. Take the full 4 minutes. You will find that each of you feel seen and heard and what a way to start the evening or your time together.
I have tested the four-minute principle with my children. If I make the first four minutes count at the very beginning of the day, the rest of the day goes much better. If they go take a nap, then the first four minutes after they wake up needs to be a priority if the rest of the evening is going to flow and successfully be reached.
The four-minute principle is great for short or even day-long interactions. Try it out and see how it works for you. Make those four minutes count and see how the rest of your day flows with greater ease.