Your co-worker gets handed a pink slip, and now you feel awkward. So awkward, in fact, that you’re tempted to do nothing. But that’s the last thing you should do.
How to deal with the situation:
React quickly, or risk appearing insensitive. Even if you can only say, “I’m sorry. And I don’t know what to say.”
Steer clear of downplaying or saying anything inauthentic. Avoid saying things like, “This place is going down the tubes” or “I know how you feel.”
Set up a gathering, once the initial shock has faded. Make it just the two of you or invite others, so you have time to say goodbye outside the office. Keep it focused on them, and “understand that some things are out of our control,” advises psychologist Kenneth E. Reinhard.
Avoid morphing into a self-help book. You don’t need to have all the answers, so keep it simple. “You want to say that you’re feeling for them right now, but keep it simple,” Reinhard says. “You don’t have to do much more than be an outlet.”
Don’t indulge in office gossip. If you get together with your buddy post-layoff, steer the conversation away from sour office topics, such as who might be laid off next. Says Reinhard, “You’re preventing that person from moving on.”
— Adapted from “Coping When a Close Co-Worker Is Laid Off,” Kayleen Schaefer, The Wall Street Journal.
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