Since the Great Recession of the late 2000s, society has been broken up into two distinct groupings... those that were laid off and those that managed to avoid that fate. Even though things have somewhat recovered since that horrific time, the divide between the two groups have never truly gone away. One of the most profilic times this comes to pass is when someone is laid off. When one tells people of this event, you can usually tell right away someone that has been laid off during that time period vs someone that wasn't.
So with that in mind, here are a few things not to do when someone tells you that they've been laid off, fired, etc.
1. Don't say 'Stay Positive'
I know when people say this they mean well, but to someone that has lost vital income, it isn't accepted in the way that it was intended. So many times I found myself biting my tongue and telling myself that they meant well, but you secretly want to punch them (my friend David's favorite threat :). When you lose a job, you not only lose income but also lose a part of your identity. So telling someone to stay positive is kind of dismissing and/or downplaying the crisis they have found themselves (especially if they have no control over it).
2. Don't give them suggestions
Again, I know people mean well and they are trying to help.. but sometimes a person needs to vent and get the emotions out into the open without being told what to do. Sometimes just sit and listen, and ONLY offer suggestions when the person asks for it. In the first few days of being laid off, one is adjusting to the new reality and trying to get through the stages of grief mixed with trying to figure out finances for the future. Sometimes a helpful suggestion that isn't asked for will only add, instead of subtracting from the stress they are feeling.
3. Don't ignore them
I understand sometimes people are afraid to reach out to someone that's gone through a major life change, but when someone has been laid off from their job.. they've been cut off from one of the main hubs for communicating with the outside world. So if you're a true friend, reach out.. even if just to say hi. From previous experience, it means a lot when people reach out to show that you still exist and haven't fallen into a black hole reserved for those that have been laid off.
4 Don't talk about their job situation unless they bring it up
One of the reasons people probably stay away is because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing, or don't know exactly what to say. My personal motto is to ask how someone is doing that day, and if they say fine without going into detail then move on because they aren't ready to talk about it. If anything, just talk about yourself and talk to them like you've always talked to them. They lost a job, but they are still the same people you know and love.. and think how you would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot.
So in conclusion, each person handles a layoff differently.. and the above four things work for me.. but they might not work for everyone. However, the above four things are good to try if nothing else works.
Filed under: Musings