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  • 11.02.10

The Seven Dumbest Things You Can Say to Someone Who Just Lost Their Job

Here are the seven dumbest things, and the seven most helpful things you can say.

1- “Don’t worry. You’ll be okay. It will all
work out.”

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When someone loses their job,
(unless they really didn’t need that job)
they’re feeling scared, they don’t know what will happen tomorrow or the
next day. They may have a family or a mortgage, or kids in college.

They don’t feel okay. They may be
wondering, “Why me” or “How do you
know I’ll be ok.” In the era of “positive thinking police,” or “positive
correctness,” it sounds like you are invalidating their experience and their
feelings. They may decide to avoid you next time they see you.

2- “Everyone’s losing their Job these days. No
one has any work”

If I just lost my job, and then
heard that everyone else lost their job, I’d be even more scared. I’d think, if
everyone is losing their jobs, how
can I expect to ever find one.

3-
You
think you have it bad? I just met an ex-CEO I used to work with who’s homeless.”

If I heard about a
very successful CEO who was homeless, I’d immediately worry that I might
end up homeless. I also might not believe your story.

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4- “Stop being so negative. Be grateful for
what you have.”

It’s true. Making a grateful list
can you in a frame of mind to feel better and take constructive action. This is
helpful, in other situations besides job loss. You might have a crisis in your business, didn’t get the
funding you need, or lost a large contract at the last minute, which put you in
a financial crisis. But a grateful list is not the end solution.
You can tell your friend that making the list is something that you and
others have found helpful.

5- “Now you can find your passion.”

What if your job was your
passion? Too many people assume
that when someone loses their job, it wasn’t their passion. Maybe they feel so
bad because they were doing what they loved.

6- “You always come out on top.”

You can tell someone they always
come out on top, but this might be one of those times, when they’re not feeling
it.

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7- “Wow,
too bad. Come sit in my new Bugati. You’ll feel better.”

Do I really need to explain? Email
me if you don’t get this one.

In this era of positive thinking and fear of other people’s
pain, it’s easy to spout slogans as though they are solutions. Don’t be afraid
of how they may be feeling.

So, what would be helpful?

1- It would be most helpful to ask them how they’re
feeling and just listen. You can say, “That must have been quite a shock.” The
acknowledgement alone, can help make them feel better, and get ready to take
the next step.

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2- Remind them of their knowledge and skills, and
that they’re capable of getting more work, or rebuilding their business, or
getting funding from another source.
If you know of other times, they’ve successfully gotten through a similar situation, gently refresh their
memory.

3- You can say “I know it’s rough these days, but I
know other people who lost their jobs, and were able to find new ones.”

4- Tell them that you would love to help brainstorm
ways they can network. Give them names of other contacts if you have some.

5- Ask them how you can help. They may want your ideas.

6- Validate how they feel by saying, “I know it may
feel hopeless right now, but that doesn’t mean it is hopeless.” Always let them know that you have faith in their abilities and that there are actions they can take.

7- You can also help them make a list of other
contacts, and resources that they can use to move forward.

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Simma Lieberman is the author of Putting Diversity to Work and a member of The Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. Simma Lieberman Associates works to create workplace cultures where people love to do their best work and customers love to do business. Read the Inclusionist blog. Follow her on twitter: @theinclusionist. Subscribe to her newsletter.

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