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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Price

Semantics Part II: Two Sides of Euphemisms

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

How to identify your priorities make sense of your internal dialogue

I googled the word euphemism. Ironically, the first example provided along with the definition was “’downsizing’ as a euphemism for [job] cuts”. The full definition: “a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing”. My job as Senior Manager, Benefits & Wellness was eliminated (cut) in October, leaving me, euphemistically #opentowork, #unemployed, and “in transition”.

I’m barely 5’1” and was a toddler during Woodstock, so I’ve been downsized for a long time.

Shakespeare said, “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Does it work the other way around? Does using a less harsh word or phrase for being unemployed ease the sting of being rendered redundant or unnecessary? Does it lessen the frustration and worry? How does it impact self-esteem? As with most things, it depends. My perspective is different from the next person’s. My perspective changes from day to day. Sometimes my perspective changes immediately before and/or after reading an email or having a phone conversation. Was it something I said? Something the recruiter or hiring manager said? Sometimes, an old insecurity, long since tucked away, rears its tired little head that makes me question my value.

At the end of the day, my last day at work was decided for me, it was a business decision. In the movie, “You’ve Got Mail”, Tom Hank’s “Joe” says to Meg Ryan’s, Kathleen, “It’s not personal. It’s business.” (Or maybe the order of those phrases is reversed”. Kathleen’s response is spot on when she says that this only means that whatever it is that is happening is not personal to the personal saying or doing the “thing”, but it is personal to the person on the receiving end. Maybe it was my lack of control of the situation. Better yet, being a seasoned HR professional, I could see it happening from the outside as it was happening. I’m not alone in this. So many companies cutting large numbers of employees as year-end approaches is horrible. Too much “misery loves company” isn’t a good thing.

I haven’t had to look for a job since October 2009. I was at one company for almost 10 years and then the next two positions found me. The job search process changed dramatically over the past 13 years. Reliance on AI in the recruitment process. More robust job boards. LinkedIn. The pandemic and its impact on how we work. The added factors of in-office, hybrid, or remote work. Interviewing over zoom. I started my job search with my list of ideal criteria of “must haves”. Earlier today, I responded to this post on LinkedIn about what aspects of a job are important and how it’s shifted recently. A comment from a fellow HR professional prompted me to finish this post.

Earlier this week, I was offered and accepted what will be my next role, starting mid-January. I look forward to getting back to immersing myself in all things benefits. Thanks to my wonderful friends and HR/benefits network for your help along the way. There’s a reason more than one act sang “With a Little Help from my Friends” at Woodstock. Anyone know which acts? No Goggling!

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