Sometimes, while trying to be nice to loved ones and friends, we unintentionally hurt them. This sort of thing often happens when we try to ‘be there’ for peeps under challenging times. They truly understand that you genuinely wish them better and are willing to do anything within your power to give them success.
But, since we aren’t the ones wearing the shoes, it’s sometimes hard to tell where exactly it hurts the most. Saying “I wish I was there” to a sister who was just robbed can hurt even more.
The truth is, you should’ve been there, and saying the obvious only makes things worse. Not everyone is emotionally intelligent enough to know what to say and when to say it to someone in distress.
When someone close to you loses their job, comments like “The same thing happened to my cousin just a few days ago”, and “Don’t worry, the position probably wasn’t yours to keep. A better door will open.”, just don’t help.
The effect is more like adding salt to injury. Your friend may not tell you boldly, but they’ll wish you never said those kinds of words. So how then do you tell a good remark from an insensitive one? Honestly, sometimes, your presence without saying a ‘word’ is enough to show that you care.
But if you must say something to soothe them, here are some things you should never say to someone who lost their job. The responses below are based on feedback generated from people who have been in similar situations below.
Read Also: How to Become a Superstar Employee at Work
12 Things You Should Never Say to People Who Lost Their Job
“At least now, you can have a well-deserved vacation!”
Well, it’s obvious you’re trying to bring them into a good mood, but you don’t know that. Unless they told you what a well-deserved vacation is like to them, you should not be the one to remind them. This kind of comment shows the ultimate insensitivity.
“I’m not surprised; your boss is a crazy person.”
Instead of reminding them that they had faced abuse on the job, you could instead say, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that man, you sound like you could use some drinks now.”
“Finally! Now’s the time to get a real job.”
This is definitely a no-no. You obviously won’t feel any better hearing that from a friend if you were in the same situation. They may not have had a great job, but right now isn’t the time to remind them of that.
“How’s the job hunt going? Any good leads yet?”
You’re probably trying to follow up on your friend’s or relative’s progress. But, it may sound like you’re saying, “Are you still looking for a job? You mean you haven’t found one yet?”
They would prefer to hear something like, “Hey sis, can I help proofread some of your applications before you send them out?”
“Hey, I’m sure you don’t know it yet, but you’ll soon realize it’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”
While they’re still feeling bad about being the one who was let go or sacked, it may sound nice to know that the experience is the best thing to happen to them. However, you forget that they need emotional support, not an evaluation of the situation.
Any comments starting with at least. “At least, you still have hope….”, “At least, they paid your salary,….”, “At least, you have a skill that….”
The use of that clause seems to make light of the situation. Instead, you can say, “I’m really sorry to hear that. Let’s keep our hopes up for another one.”
“Dude! Now is the best time to start your own business!”
Really? No way! That’s one of the things you should never say to someone who lost their job. Even though you’ve both had that discussion before, they chose not to make it public, probably for reasons you do not yet know.
“Oh, well, I think my situation is worse. I’d rather be in your position right now than deal with my boss.”
Actually, that feels more like a patronizing comment than a genuine heartfelt remark. Of course, you may not mean every word of it. But that’s more reason why you shouldn’t say it now.
A better choice of words could be, “Oh no, I’m so sorry, that’s not a good position to be in right now. Would you like me to come over? I made some good soup last night, and I’m sure you could use some.”
“Well, I guess it’s time you probably moved on to something better. It wasn’t a great job, anyway.”
Sure, it probably wasn’t a great job. But perhaps, they’d instead not like to be reminded that they’ve sucked away at a pitiful job for quite some time.
“Don’t take it too seriously. I’m sure you’ll find another one soon.”
Obviously, if you know the hassles of searching for jobs, applying, going for interviews, and all, you may not say soon. Psychologists term this kind of expression as “toxic optimism.” You mean well, but it’s not coming out well.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
While that may be true, now is not the time to be preachy. If you have to keep them motivated, you may need to change your choice of words.
“Well, you did say you were tired of working that job.”
Yea, right. However, they needed the job anyway. If they could leave, that would have been long ago.
Saying the right things to soothe someone who has just lost their job could be tough. However, if you’re deliberate about it, you’ll realize that it’s not so hard after all. Yes, especially when you understand that the best you can do for them at the moment is to be there for them.
If you must say something to them, do not fail to acknowledge or validate the pain they’re going through. Your impact is better felt when you hit those chords.