April 27th, 2010

You're Fired! How to Keep Your Cool When Losing Your Job

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Question of the day: I have a meeting tomorrow and I think my boss is going to  fire me.  I knew it was coming so I plan to look as good as usual but since I’ve never been fired before, I don’t know what to say.  What do you say when you’re being fired and still maintain your self respect?

First of all, I know exactly how you feel.  I’ve been laid off three times in my career.  The first time, I was completely taken by surprise but my other two layoffs were expected, much like yours.

Stay positive and turn your misfortune into a wonderful opportunity.  I did.  After my third lay-off, I decided to start my own etiquette business.  In the meantime, you have to remain strong.

Since you suspect that you may be fired, you are probably more prepared than you think.  When you’re called into your boss’s office, keep your emotions in check.  Allow her to say what she needs to say and don’t interrupt.  What you say at this point will not change her mind.  Hold yourself together and maintain your poise and professionalism.  How you conduct yourself in tough times speaks volumes about your morals and core values.

This conversation may be just as difficult for your boss as it is for you, especially if you have a good working relationship.  You may say something like, “I know letting me go is difficult, and I appreciate the way you handled this.  Thank you for the opportunity, and may I use you as a reference?”  You will be viewed more favorably if you don’t argue, scream, cry, or stomp out of the office in a rage.

After receiving the news, don’t commiserate with co-workers.  Sulk in private.  Bad-mouthing your employer in front of others will only burn bridges.

Don’t linger in your self-pity too long.  Take action instead.  Make a list of everyone you know, contact them, advise them of what has happened, and ask if they will help you forward your resume to others.

Send a “nice to work with you” note to those colleagues whom you admire and were the most helpful during your tenure at the company.  After all, you never know whose advice or referral you might need in the future.

Losing your job is never fun or easy, so it’s best to leave with your dignity and reputation intact.

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I’d love to hear from others as to what advice you’d offer this person.  Please weigh in!

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One Response to “You're Fired! How to Keep Your Cool When Losing Your Job”

  1. Ernest Roberts on April 27th, 2010 10:10 pm

    Excellent post! The remaining days at the office can be miserable, but it’s these days that people tend to remember you by when you leave.

    Saving face and killing everyone with kindness and courtesy is always the best way to go.

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