Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Layoff Tips

Peter and I were so sad to see this news yesterday. And, like I was in May when we went through the same thing ourselves, I was absolutely appalled by how insensitive people can be.

After we were laid off, I was extremely angry. I wasn't angry about the layoffs themselves — even at the time, I could completely understand the business rationale — but I was absolutely furious at the way it was handled internally. (I've never blogged about this subject because Peter wisely advised me not to.)

Another thing that completely enraged me was how insensitive people were to us and now to the poor people at the Free Press.

So here's what not to say to someone who has just been laid off:

1. Why don't you do this completely inappropriate, demeaning or ridiculous job?
Some suggestions included: a costumed fast food mascot, an unpaid personal servant to a family member and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach.
I'm not a job snob at all, but making ridiculous suggestions is insulting and not helpful or funny.

2. I completely understand what you are going through because I'm worried about losing my job or my colleagues lost their jobs or I took a voluntary buyout or my job was transferred to a different location.
I really appreciated empathy from people who could actually relate to what we were going through.
But being worried about losing your job, your colleagues losing their jobs, voluntarily taking a buyout or your job being transferred to a different location is just not the same as being laid off. I'm not saying those things don't suck, but they just aren't the same thing.

3. This will end up being the best thing that ever happened to you.
Losing two careers and our entire family income in one day when I was five months pregnant was horrible. And it will always be horrible.
Over the past four months, we have made the absolute best of a bad situation. And the situation was very, very bad.

So here's what to say instead:

1. I'm really sorry. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
2. Is there anything I can do?
3. I called all my friends who work in the media business to tell them to hire you.
4. You are both talented. I have no doubt that you will find new jobs.
5. Cats always land on their feet. (I always appreciate cat jokes!)

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