What do you do when you learn a friend has lost their job? The first thing to remember is they may be grieving. Grieving doesn’t only happen when someone dies. Grief happens whenever when you lose something or someone you are emotionally connected to. In re-listening to John O’Leary’s Live Inspired podcast with guest Lora McInerny, I was reminded about how grief impacts us. She knows a lot about grief from losing her husband to brain cancer early in their marriage.

Yes, people are often emotionally connected to their work, it’s called engagement. Engaged employees contribute more, i.e., they give above and beyond what is expected, and what their employer is paying for. You’ll see engaged employees regularly wearing clothing items with their company logo proudly displayed and often their identity is wrapped into the company. Engaged employees grieve their job loss.

Too often what people do doesn’t help. Here are 4 things that you should avoid doing when trying to help and some things you could be doing.

  1. Don’t Stay silent – Too often when people don’t know what to say, they don’t say anything. Silence speaks louder than you think. When I ask a job searcher what has surprised them, the most common response is surprise at the people they expected to show up and help, that did nothing. Ouch, that hurts. Do – Be proactive and reach out to the person. Find time sit down and talk and listen over a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke.
  2. Don’t Try to fix it – Your intent is good in wanting to fix it for them, unfortunately you can’t. It’s their job loss, not yours. They need your assistance; they don’t need a fixer. How do people try to fix it? They tell you what to do, both directly and indirectly. They say things like:
    • “When I was in a job search I did… and you should too”
    • “You would be great in …”
    • “I think you need to…”
    • “You can make more money in …”

Fixers only confuse the process for them, bringing more self-doubt into their mind than is already there. They’ll start questioning things they weren’t questioning before. Do – If you want to do something, introduce them to people in your network.

  1. Don’t use any of these words/phrases – I know you want to soften the blow or minimize their hurt, but these are the wrong words and phrases. Anything that comes after the following word(s) isn’t helpful for them.
    • At least you have a good severance package
    • At least you didn’t love your job
    • It wasn’t good news, but it could have been worse, like my friend …
    • Maybe you should have…
    • They should have offered you…

Do – Showing up and listening to what they have to say is extremely valuable to them.

  1. Don’t say “if you need anything, call me” – It’s too general and they won’t call you. I’m sorry to tell you but it’s just “lip service” to them. Those who are unemployed struggle to ask for help. Their pride gets in the way or it’s their own desire to be able to do it themselves. Do – The best phrase to use, and please use it more than one time, is, “can I do anything to help you?” It’s magical. It shows you care. The more you use it, the more they know you care.

Be their encourager, they need it.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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