word of the year

word of the yearI believe that everybody has a “word of the year” whether you know it or not.

Sometimes you pick that word. Sometimes it picks you.

This year, I thought my word would be “healing” because, after the chaos and turmoil in my life around last year’s presidential election, I wanted to start healing. Also, I always walk around feeling like it’s me against the world. I want to start feeling less troubled and unsettled.

So, I thought it was time to heal. I even ordered a bracelet with the word “healing” to wear on stage and when I’m around other HR ladies like me who feel wounded and aggrieved.

But, it turns out, I was wrong. My 2017 word of the year isn’t healing. It’s “de-escalate,” as in, take it down a notch. Let’s all calm down and stop making a big deal out of nothing.

And the word “de-escalate” isn’t just my word of the year. I think it’s the world’s word. I was just at Waffle House, the other day, and watched a supervisor try to give feedback to a waitress who was using the phone for personal reasons. The restaurant uses the landline to accept phone-ahead orders, and employees aren’t allowed to use the phone unless it’s an emergency.

This waitress was on a personal call, and when her supervisor repeatedly asked her to hang up, she slammed the phone down and yelled, “WHY DO YOU DISRESPECT ME LIKE THAT?”

Talk about the need for de-escalation.

They continued their conversation in the back of the house, and of course, I was seated at the booth closest to the back of the house. I heard the supervisor explain that she’d been warned about these behaviors. He asked if something was going on in the employee’s life, but she just kept repeating that he was disrespecting her.

So he sent her home.

Another waitress came over and apologized. She told me, “You just gotta pray for some people. She makes a big deal over everything. We try to talk to her, but she won’t let us help. And she was sent home, last week, for the same thing.”

Oh man, life would be so much easier if people could chill out and see that their first reaction is often not the best response. I wanted to tell the disrespected Waffle House waitress that not everything has to be a big deal unless you make it a big deal.

“Heed my advice! The stakes are not so great, lady! Hang up the phone! Get back to work!”

But then I realized that my warning would fall on deaf ears. The only person who can de-escalate your life is you.

So “de-escalate” is my 2017 word of the year, and I’m getting down to business by calming the hell down. What’s your word?


  1. The Buddhists say, “You should always be kind whenever it is possible (and it is always possible).” I love that. We choose to be assholes (myself included, very guilty) just as easily as we can choose to be kind.

  2. My word for 2017 is downshift. Since the beginning of the year, my husband and I moved and downsized. By the end of the year, I’ll be transitioning to a part time position after 40 years of professional employment. Instead of climbing the ladder, I’ll be building on the institute I found 10 years ago.

Comments are closed.