By Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
Managing Curious and Well-Intentioned People
One of the hardest things about being laid off is telling other people about it--specifically fielding their uninvited questions. I'm not talking about work people or your professional network, either. I'm talking about the family friend you run into at the grocery store, that parent you went to a PTA meeting with once and the neighbor you seldom see. Worse yet, it is interacting with a group of well-intentioned people who express their curiosity, worry, and opinions regarding your well-being.
Here are a few suggested talking points for managing those conversations that pop up at just the wrong time.
Getting Your Patter Down
After you've chatted with your inner circle--those people with whom you share your raw and uncut thoughts, feelings, and worries--it’s time to think about how you talk about this with all the rest of the people. It is those people who make random comments, who don't really know how layoffs go, and who might be trying to be helpful or supportive or to give you advice on a situation that is foreign to them. These conversations may be rough for you, especially if you're feeling vulnerable. Your goal may be to get through the awkwardness and move on to other topics.
To prepare, it is helpful to have an idea of how to respond. Here are a few suggestions for talking points to get you through.
Talking About Your Current State and Near Term Plans
Talking About The Job You No Longer Have
The question: I heard you’re unemployed. What happened there!
Your core message: My job ended. It is a thing that happened.
Talking About What Is Next For You
The question: What are you going to do now? I would be freaking out.
I’d be scared to death if I were you. Are you sure you’ll be okay?
A person I sort of know lost their house/was unemployed for years/had to take a pay cut/never worked again.
Your core message: I’m going to keep on living and also look for a new job.
Talking About STILL Not Having a Job
The question: So--do you have a job yet?
Are you STILL unemployed?
Did that thing you were interviewing for work out?
Your core message: I am job searching and something will work out.
Acknowledging People's Reassurances
The question/comment: Don’t worry. It’ll be fine. Hang in there! You’re so talented!
Your response: Thanks.
Addressing People's Well Intentioned (and Sometimes Awful) Advice
7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.