Some of the absolute best time you can spend building a relationship with someone is time spent on a shared chore or project. In almost all cases it vastly outperforms time simply spent on relationship-building directly.
There’s just something about shared work that simultaneously greases the wheels of conversation and togetherness while also filling in all those gaps and uncertainties. It provides a shared goal, and the goal in turn reveals all sorts of things about the people involved that might be obscured in time spent solely trying to impress each other.
In fact, this works so well I’m shocked we haven’t converted some of the most elemental “get to know you” conversations into institutional versions of this. Job interviews are absolutely terrible – a far better version of them would be to just say, “hey, come do an hour’s worth of job-related activities with key members of the team.” You’ll get far more than an interview; that’s true of both sides.
For a first date, just build a piece of furniture together. You’d learn so much more, have much more fun, and you’d have a chair or whatever no matter how it ended up going.
Forget campaign speeches and pulpits. Someone wants to run for office? They should have to renovate an old house, top to bottom, with a bunch of people, while being filmed. I’ll find out everything I need to know.
The point is – when you want to really build a relationship with people, whether it’s a teammate, a child, a partner, a friend – do some work with them. Help them clean their garage. Ask them to help you fix your sink. Go volunteer together. But the core of human experience is joyful labor with our clan, so don’t avoid it. Embrace it.