One of my all time favorite quotes comes from the book Between Teacher and Child written by Dr. Haim Ginnott. He said, “In all situations it is the teacher who decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized.” If every future teacher could somehow internalize and live just that one sentence, our classrooms and students would benefit every day.
However, that quote doesn’t just apply to teachers and their students, it applies to life. As our population increases, it seems we have become less patient with one another. A person hesitates five seconds before moving on a green light and horns blare. A sales clerk has to call his manager to fix an error and people stomp away grumbling…or worse. A waitress places a lemon slice on someone’s water glass and the customer goes nuts.
Each of us has the power to de-escalate a tense situation. It’s a choice. All it takes is a smile, a kind word or even just calm patience. When we find our tempers rising we can choose to turn off that switch, take a deep breath and make a decision to de-escalate the situation. As the holidays and long lines increase this season we will all be put to the test. Does it make anyone feel better to grind someone into the ground? Where is the humanity in that? Escalate a situation and it almost always gets worse. Everyone loses. Add kindness and patience to the same situation and it will miraculously begin to improve. Everyone wins.
The choice is ours.