The Tipping Point and Student Affairs

When rushing, we are more likely to neglect people in need
“The words ‘Oh, you’re late’ had the effect of making someone who was ordinarily compassionate into someone who was indifferent to suffering–of turning someone, in that particular moment, into a different person” (Malcolm Gladwell, 2002, The Tipping Point, pp. 165-166).

So what happens to our students (and us) when we are pressed on every side to take care of more students, answer more questions, solve more problems, and accomplish all of this in less time, with less resource, and fewer personnel? My read of Gladwell’s conclusions suggests that we are less likely to help.

So can we rush less? Maybe not. Every one of us has a supervisor who at times is asking us to act with a sense of urgency or expediency. So, for job’s sake, we need to hurry. The individual whom we are asked to help certainly deserves prompt attention. In rushing, though, we are more likely to miss (or neglect) others who are also in need. I am not happy about that thought.

What can I do? In rushing to help the one (including myself), I want to be mindful that rushing creates a tendency to neglect the others in need. As often as I can, I will slow down and notice the other people whom I may serve too.

I will also challenge others (like me) who work in management roles. What would happen if all of us looked for ways to relieve administrative requirements on our staff? Those requirements consume time and leave our staff members with less time to serve–and less time to discover–students in need. What if we managers and supervisors not only looked for but also eased the “administrivia” and reduced the time to fulfill administrative requirements so staff had more time between meetings and more time to serve?

This was posted by a good colleague, Jude Hardin.


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