How many people out there reading this post has received a phone call, text, e-mail, Facebook note, or tweet from a friend, relative, or associate recently stating that they had been laid off or fired from their jobs? Lately, with the recession in full swing and with unemployment numbers at an all time high, its a given that this news would be amongst us. But my question to my readers is, how do you handle it as the recipient of said news?
First off, I know the importance of having a job. I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I were suddenly laid off or fired right now. I have a few dollars saved in the bank but of course not enough to sustain me or my family for a long period of time. I work to make money first and foremost and it is my number one source of income. Without it, life would be pretty tough for me and my two children. So when people inform me of their present employment woes, I oftentimes don’t know what to say or how to respond, and sometimes when I do respond, I feel like I am not being as good of a friend as I could. I know being supportive is key but of course there are different degrees of support.
Case in point, a very good girlfriend of mine was recently let go from her job due to downsizing. She called me right after she was given the news and started crying. I had no idea what to even say. I knew this was a devastating blow to her. I have been let go in the past as well, and I was so livid about it that nothing anyone could say to me was going to make the situation better. Luckily I found a job about a week later, but of course the job market was quite different then.
In reality, I didn’t want to appear condescending or rude. And I also didn’t want to appear that I didn’t care or that feel so sorry for her. I am sure the last thing that she wanted was pity. So what’s the best way to be there for a friend or a loved one that has been recently displaced from their jobs?
I guess for me, the first thing I say would do is to listen (and that is exactly what I did in the aforementioned instance). I know when I am talking to others about a not so good situation that I am going through, I don’t want to be preached to or to be talked over. I simply want someone to listen to me. Secondly, I wouldn’t offer anything that I wasn’t really truly going to follow through and do. I know one reaction to receiving this news would be to ask, “Is there anything that I can do to help?” I don’t think this question should be asked if you aren’t truly going follow through with the request, within reason of course. Say they answer this question with, “Could you help me look online for job opportunities?” and you agree. Don’t say you are going to help if you don’t have any intention on doing so.
You could also offer to write a letter of recommendation on their behalf if you truly know their work ethic or performance, or if your job is hiring, you may want to fill them in on the opportunity. Of course, by doing so, make sure that this person would be a positive asset to the company. You don’t want to lose your job trying to help someone else out.
I felt this post was relevant because more and more, I have been receiving calls of this nature and I know I can’t be the only one. Give me some feedback and let me know how you’ve been handling this. Or if you’ve been laid off, how did your family and friends support you?