What Not to Say When a Friend Gets Laid Off


Tough luck, sucker! Ok, so maybe that’s nothing that even crossed your mind to say to your friend who just got laid off. You were probably reserving that for your arch enemy. Your friend is special and doesn’t deserve such harsh statements. Yet, when you hear the news it can be difficult to know what to say. You don’t want to say something that could send him over the edge of despair. He’s probably already teetering near the cliff.

See Also: How to Bounce Back After Being Laid Off

No one wants to get called into the boss’s office to hear that he’s getting laid off. Unless of course, this person hated their job since day one and has been looking for a way to sabotage himself and make his boss fire him. If that’s your friend, then feel free to say anything that comes out of your mouth. He doesn’t need your sympathy.

Now, your friend who truly got laid off, needs your sympathy. Just use common sense. Don’t freak her out by adding to her distress. Avoid flippant statements and overly positive ones like honey, you just gotta make lemonade out of lemons! Some things are better left unsaid.

1. Oh my God, What Are you Going to Do?

Nicolas Cage
Movie Pilot

The last thing your friend needs to hear is oh my God, what are you going to do. Don’t you think that question has played over and over again in her mind a million times since hearing the news? She’s not an idiot. She knows she needs to come up with a plan. Hearing you actually ask the question will freak her out even more. Again, remember we’re talking about a friend, not your nemesis. Have a heart! Give her time to process the news. You can be sure that if your friend is actually excited to have gotten laid off, she would’ve led the conversation with guess what and asked you out for drinks to celebrate. When you don’t hear those words and witness her nearly hyperventilating into a paper bag, it’s best to not ask her about her future plans. You don’t want to push her over the edge.

2. Hope you Have Better Luck Next Time

Saying better luck next time is like patting your friend on the back and trivializing his circumstances. Then you head out for a café latte at Starbucks with your other gainfully employed friends during lunch break. Sure you mean well, but you don’t want to rub salt in his wound and call attention to his sorry state. Saying this will make your friend feel like you don’t even care what happened to him. Your friend is standing there in a daze, thinking it’s the end of the world as he knows it and all you can say is a trite comment.

Watch out for that left hook that is sure to come your way as your friend clears his mind from the fog and makes his hasty exit. Make sure you put some ice on your black eye before you head over to Starbucks with your friends. You’ll have to come up with some sexy fight story for that cute barista that you always flirt with. Probably best to wait a while before texting your friend to see how he’s doing. He most likely mentally just added you to his do not answer list for callers. In his mind, you’ll be in the same league as those pesky telemarketers and long lost relatives that he hates.

3. Hey, I Heard the Strip Club Was Hiring

Magic Mike

Maybe you have your friend’s best interests at heart, but the strip club? Really? Probably not the best suggestion you’ve had all week. Yes, your friend just lost a job, but do you think she’s that desperate to find work at a strip club! There may be some exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, don’t give your friend the number for the nearest strip club that you frequent. Especially avoid adding insult to injury and further put your foot in your mouth by saying she has the perfect body for pole dancing. You’ll probably get slapped in the face and kicked in the groin. Not exactly how you imagined the day going when your friend asked you to meet for lunch!

4. Don't Worry, you'll Get a Job in No Time

Sure you mean well, but saying you’ll get a job in no time, isn’t very helpful. It’s not even true. How do you know? Do you have a secret crystal ball hidden in your basement that you consult to tell the future? Didn’t think so! Your friend just got laid off. He needs to process what happened. Having you smile and shower him with sunshine and rainbows, telling him everything will be ok, isn’t the best thing to say. Your friend doesn’t want a new job. He wanted the one he had! Let him be sad for the moment. Save your sunshine and rainbows speech for when he comes knocking, looking for constructive advice. That’s when you can help him see the silver lining in getting laid off. Being too positive in that initial conversation, is liable to get your head chewed off by your temporarily insane friend. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

5. Good, Now you Can Collect Unemployment

Just because you might want to lounge out at home, eating junk food all day and binge watching your favorite TV show —while you collect unemployment— doesn’t mean that was your friend’s ultimate dream. No, your friend is upset about being laid off because he obviously wanted to work so he could eat and pay his bills, and maybe make something of his life. Don’t project your unemployment fantasy on him. Tell him you’re sorry to hear he got laid off. Then figure out your own master plan to make your unemployment fantasy come true.

6. Awesome, Now you Can Take a Vacation

Girl With Surf Board

White sandy beaches, nonstop margaritas and warm ocean breezes. Maybe you’re fleetingly imagining the long vacation you could take if you got laid off. Just don’t say that your friend should now take a vacation. Getting all excited about this imaginary vacation to Los Cabos and hooking up with sexy girls in bikinis is your fantasy, remember! Right now, your friend is fantasizing that his boss had taken pity on him and somehow figured out a way to keep him employed. He’s currently fantasizing about what it would take to rob a bank or steal some valuable paintings just so he can pay his rent. So before you get all stimulated by your imaginary vacation, hold yourself in check and stick to the I’m sorry man.

7. Cool, you Can Start an Online Business

guy with laptop

Any other day, this would be a cool idea. Just not the day your friend found out he got laid off. So when you get a 911 text to meet him at the bar, tread carefully with your suggestions. While he’s drinking away his sorrows over continuous shots, that’s not the best time to say he should start an online business. Save that idea for when you meet up later in the week after he’s had time to cycle through the massive hangover, self-pity party and is finally coming up for air in the land of the living. He’ll be much more receptive to such creative ideas when he doesn’t feel like his whole world just blew up in his face!

Remember, tough luck sucker, it not the way to go. Sure, you may feel helpless to say the right thing. Just use your brain —hopefully you have a working one that isn’t entangled with too many cobwebs. Think before you speak. Act like a human being with a heart. If you wouldn’t want someone to say it to you, then don’t say it to your friend. Say the right thing and you can be instrumental in his emotional and mental recovery. Say the wrong thing and you could be responsible for pushing him off the cliff or you getting punched, slapped, having your head bitten off or getting kicked in the balls.

Have you ever had a friend who got laid off? What do you think is the worst thing you could say in that instance?