What To Say To Someone Who Has Been Laid Off

3 minutes

If you’re not sure about what to say to someone who recently got laid off, even if it’s a loved one, you’re not alone. It’s a very sensitive subject.

There isn’t any way to avoid the conversation being a little uncomfortable. Keep in mind that your loved one is affected more substantially by being the person who was laid off, and thus is more sensitive to the topic.

The goal of talking about their layoff is to understand their situation and to find out how you can help. Ask what kind of support would be most helpful to your loved one.

Looking back to my own experience, here are a few things that can be kept in mind:

1. Remind them of famous success stories

People need time to get used to the concept of moving on. When you’re let go, you suddenly no longer belong, you’re no longer part of a team, and you no longer have a place to go from Monday through Friday. Replacing this comfortable routine with suggestions of the unknown doesn’t really help.

Steve Jobs
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It gives them a bit of perspective, helping them realize that they’re not to blame for the layoff—and that this, too, shall pass.

2. Sometimes, you don’t have to say anything

No matter the individual or the circumstances, being let go from a job stings. Feelings and emotions closely align with the well-known five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In addition, financial worries, societal standings, and self-worth are often negatively impacted.

During such times, your co-worker, your friend, or your family member, just needs you to be there but they don’t necessarily need you to say anything.



So, stick around, and if you aren’t sure about what to say, just say nothing. What this person really needs is to talk it out and for you to listen with both ears.

Sometimes, they will need your help with ideas, but other times, they will just be glad that someone is talking through the plan with them.

3. Encourage them

The goal is to make it through the layoff and adjust to a new life. The details are for them to work out. If you advocate too strongly for a specific way of doing things, you can make one feel like they’re failing if they do things differently.

Being laid off can make a person feel as if they’re not valued by their former employer. Give them encouragement and compliment them for the things that they do well. This confidence will help them transition into a new happy career.

This article is a part of  #Fired2FiredUp Campaign by YourDOST. Visit the page for real life stories, learnings and tips from career psychologists and recruiters.

Have you experienced a layoff recently? Are you finding it difficult to cope with it? Talk to an Expert at YourDOST.

Shilpa Pandey

Shilpa is an expert at YourDOST. She's a certified Life Coach (Accredited ICF) from Symbiosis Coaching USA. She has spent more then 15 years as a HR Professional in various industries like airlines, consulting, FMCG & retail. Shilpa supports people in achieving their life’s passion and purpose and wishes to reach out to hundreds of people in the world to make their lives fulfilling and enriching! She's a yoga enthusiast, offbeat traveler, avid reader and a philanthropist.