Near the top of the list of uncomfortable workplace situations is when a friend gets laid off. Specialists in worker psychology have suggestions about what to say after a layoff — and warnings about what to avoid.
- Yes: “I just heard the news, and I’m really sorry.”
This is a sentiment that’s short, to the point and honest. Your reaction doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
- Yes: “When things settle down, give me a call.”
A lot depends on just how close your relationship is, but leave the door open for the person to get back in touch when he or she is ready.
- No: “You’re better off. And this place is going down the tubes, so I’ll probably be joining you soon.”
No one in that situation needs to hear more negativity or bitterness. It won’t make them feel better about their own situation.
- No: “I feel awful this happened to you.”
Saying you’re sorry is one thing; telling the other person you feel awful is another. That sort of comment starts to make the whole thing about you — and that’s not what anyone needs to hear after losing a job.
- No: “I have a friend who has a friend who may need someone like you at their place.”
This sort of comment is usually well-meant, but is just as often casual and not a sincere lead on a job. And the person who’s listening to it is desperate and hanging onto any possibilities. It’s OK to help with the job search, but half-empty promises about employment usually hurt more than help.