Upon arriving this morning for my workshop at 10 am I stopped by the front desk to say good morning to the secretary and student aides who were working. As I stopped to say hello, I caught the tail end of their conversation which was all about how many students can be so rude or mean when approaching the front desk. It was at this point that our department secretary said “well, all you can do is kill ‘em with kindness”.
That statement made me begin to wonder how many times a day I encounter a student who is somewhat rude and disrespectful. Fortunately, the number is not too high because speaking to the student in a kind tone usually does affect the student’s tone and mood as well. However, let’s stop and think for a moment why that student is approaching you with a rude and mean demeanor. Too often the reason the student is rude and abrasive is because he or she has been sent from office to office to take care of their issue.
Needless to say by the time he or she gets to the correct location his or her mood has greatly shifted. No one person is to blame for this mood shift but all we can do as, student services professionals, is answer them with a smile and hope that this one final stop will cause their mood to brighten. Additionally, when I am approached with a student who is in a foul mood I often think back to my college days when I was shifted around and this causes me to wonder if I was ever rude to the individual who finally did help me and get me on the right path. In this flashback I can safely assume that I’m sure I was a bit rude but in a completely unconscious manner.
Indeed, at times our foul mood emerges without our knowing, and I try to always remember that the student may have been trying to find me or the “right” answer for a long while. Ultimately, as long as I help the student find what he or she is looking for with a smile on my face he or she catches on as well.
Can you name an instance where you helped a student and thus “killed ‘em with kindness?”