A friend and colleague of mine was recently fired from her position at our company. It was an unexpected event and she is obviously upset. What should I say to her – especially since I am still working at the company?
Sincerely, Where Did All The Good Times Go?
Dear Where Did All the Good Times Go,
I am guessing you don’t work with Paula Deen, whose recent debacle requires MUCH more than I can probably offer. And George Zimmer is probably not on your speed dial. But if you are like millions of other everyday people in the world, you are sad that your friend is no longer gainfully employed, but still very happy that you in fact are. The best thing to say is, “I am so sorry you are going through this. How can I be of support?” Many times people just need to be heard, but beware of others who just want to dish and dissect. I suggest you avoid gossip at all costs, as it will likely come back to hurt you in the end. Participating in a slam fest of your current employer with a disgruntled ex-employee is like asking Zimmer to wear sweatpants or telling Deen to stop using butter – it might feel good for a while but it will likely leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Now, let’s talk about what NOT to say to this fragile friend including, but not limited to:
- “How much unemployment will you get?”
- “Did they say anything about me in the meeting?”
- “I am not surprised.”
- “How embarrassing!”
- “Don’t worry, you’ll find a better job.”
- “How are you going to swing health insurance?”
- “I got fired once and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
- “Can I have your office/stapler/laptop/butter dish?”
Stick to simple, supportive comments and leave the slippery slope to others in the office, Paula’s is greased with butter.