In recent times a lot of persons have lost their jobs partly due to the Coronavirus outbreak that put many economies of the world on hold, Nigeria inclusive.
Maybe one of those workers is someone you know. If you’re wondering how to support and show up for your former colleague or friend right now, first consider what you shouldn’t say to someone who’s just lost their job.
Note that these well-meaning words of support could be doing more harm than good:
What NOT to say:
Everything happens for a reason.
Or ‘When one door closes, another one opens,’ or other cliche phrases about how their job loss was meant to be. While you may believe them to be true, your friend likely isn’t ready to hear this yet. Instead, provide a listening ear and acknowledge their experience without rushing to find the silver lining.
That’s horrible news!
Please no drama — you want to be calm and low-key. Try to diffuse tension, not rekindle it.
Don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll find a new job soon.
The truth is, you cannot predict the future and you have no idea how long it will take your friend to find a new job.
They’ll regret firing you.
You may share in your friend’s anger, but stoking negative thoughts is counterproductive. Focus their energy on future opportunities — a much healthier and productive choice.
Lucky! I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow. Enjoy the time off!
Always avoid making someone’s misfortune about you and your situation and recognize that when someone becomes unemployed, they may have serious and valid concerns related to their ability to provide for themselves and their family. Although it may seem nice to not work for a period of time, keep in mind that unemployment is not a vacation.
What are you going to do?
Your friend is likely feeling enough panic or at least anxiety without having to spell out their job search strategy. In your zeal to be empathetic, still, err on the side of the calm listener and positivity.
Things could be worse. At least you have your husband/wife/family to support you.
While it is probably true that there are people out there who are worse off, phrases like this can feel totally invalidating.
What to say:
I’m so sorry to hear the news. I know how much time you devoted there. How are you feeling?
When people are going through hardship, they want to hear words that communicate understanding and empathy. Try to avoid giving your friend advice, immediately trying to cheer them up, or having them look at the ‘bright side.’ Understand that losing a job is just that a loss.
I understand how scared (or angry, frustrated or sad) you’re feeling. That has to be difficult.
Validation is always a good place to start because it allows the other person to feel heard and understood first and foremost, which is usually what we need from our friends more than anything else.
Do you want to talk about it?
Depending on the person and timing, they may or may not want to dredge up the memory. Give them the option to vent and be a supportive, good listener without judgment
Do you want to get together?
During a period of unemployment, people can become increasingly isolated and socially withdrawn, particularly if a big part of their social circle once involved co-workers. Therefore, encourage your friend to get out of the house, stay active, and remain connected with others.
What do you need from me?
This allows your friend to think about and tell you what they need. Many people’s initial reaction when someone is having a difficult time is to give advice but that might not actually be helpful. If they ask for advice, then go for it because they’re seeking it themselves
I have faith in you.
Whenever career setbacks occur, it’s nice to be reminded of one’s ability to bounce back. Point out past resilience, successes in overcoming obstacles ― and their great decision-making abilities overall.
How can I help?
“Even if your friend is not sure what they need or how you can help, asking is still a way to communicate your support. Simply put, these phrases can be nice to hear.