Why working faster will make you less caring

An interesting study by John Darley and C. Batson entitled “The Good Samaritan” involved having seminary students write a speech. One group was assigned the topic of jobs available after graduation. The other group was given the task of giving a speech on the Good Samaritan. The parable of the Good Samaritan is about several holy men coming across a wounded person on the road and passing him by. A Samaritan comes across the man and does stop to help.

The students were to deliver the speech in an auditorium on the other side of the campus. They were then given three levels of urgency in giving their speech:

  • Low Hurry: “It’ll be a few minutes before they’re ready for you, but you might as well head on over. If you have to wait over there, it should’nt be long”
  • Intermediate Hurry: “The assistnat is ready for you, so please go right over.”
  • High Hurry: “Oh, you’re late. They were expecting you a few minutes ago. You’d better get moving. The assistant should be waiting for you so you’d better hurry. It should take only a minute.”

The students passed a person who was part of the experiment. He was groaning, coughing, and huddled in a distressed position. The experimenters wanted to know if they would stop to help this person on their way to their speech and whether that action was based on the topic or the urgency.

The results were as followed:

  • Low Hurry: 63 percent
  • Intermediate Hurry: 45 percent
  • High Hurry: 10 percent.

The topic had nothing to do with the caring response as much as the hurry they were in. Working at a high speed, under stress to get things done quickly, will ultimately reduce the amount of care you exhibit to your co-workers and clients. Personal life is the same way. Not taking time to slow down will diminish your ability to care for those around you. We need to manage our time well.

So, what are some practical ways we can slow ourselves down. What works against our ability to slow down and, as they say, smell the roses? Comment here>>

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5 comments on “Why working faster will make you less caring
  1. Wes Roberts says:

    Jeff…thought provoking post…needed…thank you!

    Mentoring several seminary students, this will be one I encourage them to read and ponder…hoping they take the time. 🙂

    This past week, one of those good men shared his feelings of stress, both at work and with his studies. Listening to him through the grid of the 8 Dimensions of my Circle of Life mentoring model, taking time out to breath deep and get some exercise was totally missing…the physical dimension.

    The challenge was to plan, before going to bed, when in the next day would he take time out to take a brisk walk for 45 minutes. A former college football player, he looked at me skeptically…but I insisted…a brisk walk for 45 minutes. He wasn’t being asked to do a marathon or climb a 14er. Walk. Get moving. Outside. No class notes. Look at the clouds. Take deep breaths.

    I like this guy. He is a good man. Frazzled? Yup! But in all the push he was forgetting how his soul links up to his body and his very creative mind.

    So…a text comes in yesterday saying he may even talk a second walk. Though he thought I was a bit nuts for asking him to do this, he and his young wife even had a good walk and talk. Exhaling…and inhaling…all sorts of thoughts has now become a bit of a sacred exercise.

    The demon of hurry is disappearing. The purposefulness of intentionality is now feeding what he needs to really be about. The tasks have not changed all that much, but what he does with them, and when, has. I’m hearing from a man who is now more focused and clear on what he is to be…and be about…in the hours of his day.

    Your good post is a wonderful encouragement to him, and me, to keep going with less haste and clearer purpose. Thank you!

  2. Wes Roberts says:

    PS…please forgive the typo: it should have read “…he may even take a second walk” not “talk a walk.” Was this the early morning example of being in a hurry? lol

  3. Wes, thank you for the good words. You do wonderful work and provide a much needed “counter-balance” to the inherent stresses of leadership

  4. Very cool study. But, I am in a hurry, I gotta go.

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