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10 Worst Things to Say to Someone Who Just Got Laid Off

Alice Handley and Tania Khadder

August 26, 2009

Someone you know just lost their job. Yikes.

You want to be supportive. You want to help them see the positive side of their misfortune. You want to buy them a drink. And you should! But please, tread carefully.

The time directly following a layoff is a delicate one. Your friend will want your help, but they may not be so receptive to your wise suggestions or burning questions. The fact of the matter is, being laid off sucks. Your comments come from a good place (of course!), but you might be surprised at how they are construed by someone whose wounds are still fresh from getting shown the door.

Here are 10 things you shouldn’t say to someone who has just been laid off.

First Worst Thing to Say →


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    logar

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I was laid off 2 years ago and just recently started working at a new job. I almost choked when I read "when life gives you lemons......." When my boss laid me off, she uttered those words to me. I almost reached across the desk and slapped her. To make matters worse, the next day a flower arrangement arrived at my house. They were daises in a vase filled with cut lemons and the card was signed by my boss. I threw out everything but the vase!

    As for unemployment benefits...File and file early. Every employee has paid into it. There is no shame in collecting unemployment checks. This is not 'charity' as some ignorant people may think and say.

    Many of my friends and family said to me everything stated in this article. After awhile, I figured out that they had no understanding of what I was going thru, since most of them were gainfully employed and had never been laid off before. My suggestion - check with your state unemployment office and take advantage of the workshops and classes offered. You'll meet people who are in the same boat as you. I was able to go back to school for computer programing certification, all paid for by my state. I ended up meeting friends, and we supported & helped each other till one by one, we became employed. To this day, I'm still in touch with them.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    aworkinggirl

    over 3 years ago

    54 comments

    Well, I just read through this article and personally I would say anyone who thinks those are the "worst" are just plain being oversensitive. I get the impression from this article is that one is supposed to either say nothing at all (which to me is the worst because it's like blowing someone off) or to grouse and encourage negativity...the very negativity that if it sets in will keep someone from finding a job. The one I disagree with MOST is #8. Who is to say what job is inappropriate? Some people need to get their noses out of the air about the kind of work they'll do for a living. Being too picky or being a job snob is not helpful

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Cheryllynnmarti

    over 3 years ago

    16 comments

    One of the worst things ever said to me when I was laid off years ago was "Congratulations, I hear it's happening all over!" After which, I was berated for not buying more Amway stuff! At least this person realized that my ability to buy those things might be impeded by the loss of my job. I also disagree with the rule about filing for unemployment. That should be done as soon as possible.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    wbryan

    over 3 years ago

    4 comments

    I disagree about filingn for unemployment -- the sooner, the better and if the recently laid off are reeling from the shock, they may need to hear it from a friend.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ocbethie

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    If I had a nickel for when half of these things were said to me....I wouldn't need another job! :-)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Mgaudino

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    It is definite true. You need to grieve about what just happened. We are not robots to jump from one job to another. Especially if you really loved the job you where doing. There are 5 stages of grieving . Denial and Isolation. 2. Anger. 3. Bargaining. 4. Depression. 5. Acceptance. Maybe not in the same order for everyone, but you need to grieve. We are Human beings.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Buffalogal

    over 3 years ago

    4 comments

    Great article!!!I talked to my sister after I lost my job and she says completely nothing while I was crying on the phone sometimes she said things like you're not the only one unemployed or it is really hard out there.I think I'm really messing up her television time and she really wants me off the phone.I think that people who are working have no I deal what it feels like to live with no money everyday and to wake up every night wondering how you'll pay for the house you live in or just food.Thanks so much for your wonderful article

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    butterfly312309

    almost 5 years ago

    4 comments

    This list is 'dead on'!!! Recently lost my job and have had every one of these comments said to me on one form or another. The other comment I absolutely hate, but not on the list is "Are you going to find another job right away or enjoy your time off?" I really want to scream at these idiots with there head tilt looks of wonderment.

    While being employed provides the obvious benefits, money, socialization, etc, for me it also helps me feel as if I have a purpose. When you are suddenly out of a job, you feel lost and your sense of purpose has been taken away.

    Thank you for the list.

  • Sassy_4-15-08_max50

    cfulghum37

    almost 6 years ago

    1014 comments

    I have been laid off before and it is not fun, but as I look back on my experience, I noticed that it gave me time to re-evaluate my career options and "retire" for a few months while I lived on the severance package that I received. Also at that time, my husband and I were just starting our own business, truck patching. This is where we grew vegetables and at that time researched organic - it would have been more expense in organic than in the money that it would have brought in. We still farm, but we have also branched out into raising horses as well. We really have not limited ourselves to one branch. I have since gone back to work outside the home again, but we still work flea markets and auctions as well as a few other markets.

    Another good thing is that I had a wonderful support base at home. It was wonderful!

  • Copy_of_headshot_max50

    CKOgi01

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Amen to most of this! Having just gotten my downsizing letter a few weeks ago, I'm still in the 'reeling phase.' Nine years with my company, nary a performance problem. But we had massive contract losses for 2010, and the company had a round a corporate-wide job cuts, and mine was, unfortunately one of those mandated by someone I'm sure never even read my name. Unfortunately, my job also came with a company car...so I'm losing my transportation shortly, and taking on more debt when I'm staring zero income in the face is less than appealing.

    I HATE the 'You have to file unemployment right away!' Well, genius, technically, I'm still employed for a few more months, so can't do that while I'm getting a paycheck. I already feel stupid enough as it is, so stating the obvious is rather insulting. (I realize this decision had so nothing to do with performance, but really difficult to not play the 'If I'd have taking this training, joined this committee...etc. game.)

    The two bright sides are that my position is work from home, so I don't have to face my still-employed coworkers as I frantically search for a job, and that I no longer have to feel guilty about being upset with work problems and hearing 'Well, be glad you still have a job!'

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