Q&A with Carey Sue Vega
Knowing what to say, staying in touch can help layoff victims
Q: Many Oklahoma City residents know people who recently were laid off by Chesapeake Energy or another employer. What should they say, or not say, to someone who just lost their job?
A: Start with acknowledging the elephant in the living room. Say something like, “I'm really sorry this happened to you. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.” If you are a co-worker who was lucky enough to retain your job, sometimes you end up suffering from survivor's guilt and end up giving your former co-worker the cold shoulder inadvertently. Reach out and say something, or when you do run into them down the road, it's going to be even more awkward.
Q: What if you feel uncomfortable calling?
A: Pull out a pen and drop them a good, old-fashioned note. Express your sentiments and tell them you'd like to take them to lunch or coffee. Then, reach out to them in the next few days to set a date, and don't forget to pick up the tab.
Q: What shouldn't people say?
A: Avoid trite phrases such as “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” “Everything happens for a reason” or “Things will work out,” or you may come off as being insensitive. And don't jump in with suggestions of where to look, what to do with their resume, who to contact, etc. They're not ready to hear that yet. For many, their emotions run parallel to those of someone who's facing the death of a loved one: grief, shock, anger, anxiety and disbelief. Sometimes they may be placing an unfair level of embarrassment upon themselves.