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Don't Be Afraid of the Rain;Tips for Reacting to a Job Layoff

A job layoff can be an emotional experience that weighs heavy on the ex-employee psyche for days, weeks, and years.

"They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'sh*t, it's raining!" Ruby Thewes, Cold Mountain

You are emotional and in shock because you just heard about the layoff. The reason for the layoff is unclear and secondary to the layoff. You intuitively know that Issues like financial mismanagement, macroeconomics, budget issues, and other factors played a role in the decision. By staying calm and being mindful, you can navigate the layoff to land a new job.

A job layoff is a surreal experience whether it's just happened or you're 3-4 weeks into it. You can train yourself to stay focused on the key elements of navigating a layoff. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! Ruminating about what you could have done differently or who may have thrown you under the bus to save themselves may lead to depression and can immobilize you.

You have likely heard the phrase “What You Do Isn’t Who You Are” and maybe you have also read the book by the title by author Ben Horowitz. If that statement were based on fact, a job layoff would be an uncomplicated life event. With six months of savings and the unemployment benefit, it would be a mere hiccup on the way to something better.

Here are some important tips for reacting to a job layoff-

  1. Stay calm and mentally work to find your Zen and the example of rigorous self-restraint, mindfulness, and insight into the nature of the mind. Slow down your pace and become an award-winning actor to project a demeanor that you haven’t a care in the world.
  2. Use self-talk and remind yourself that the decision for the layoff was a company business decision. Offer to stay and complete any projects you were already working on. The employer may be taken aback by this kind of offer and it may help take the edge off such a delicate and personal situation.
  3. Engage in small talk; ask for a personal letter of recommendation from someone in authority. You likely will not get the letter the same day, however, stay friendly and follow-up to get the letter.

As you're preparing to leave the building and finalizing the layoff, don't leave anything behind and this includes intangibles. This is similar to the example of getting the last bit of toothpaste from the tube so lean in and squeeze. You will gain by leaving on good terms because you leave the door ajar for a possible return to the company sometime in the future.

The moment you are laid off quickly changes the dynamic of what was a mutually beneficial relationship to a transitional relationship resulting in a separation from the employer. You owe it to yourself to be prepared and to navigate toward the best possible outcome.

“Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” ~Buddha

In the blog post Think Before Reacting: How to Use Your Mental Pause Button, the blogger Tiny Buddha advises us to find our emotional and mental triggers. Then find the pause button and know when to push it. "...just hold off and listen." is the best advice for anyone who is in the moment(s) of being laid off.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Sharon R Hill