Best ways to react when a colleague tells you that they were fired?
You may, in your career, face a lot of uncomfortable situations, which you cannot escape as much as you try. The firing of a coworker is one such situation. It may also be unnerving for you as you may immediately feel that you are next. It may be overwhelming for you if you have established a positive relationship with the coworker in question. And it may even be hard for you to react when a colleague tells you that they were fired.
You will feel awkward and not know the best thing to say to them. So, you may feel that it is best not to say anything at all, which is a bad decision. But know that getting fired is a traumatic experience for your coworker, but it’s even worse if your colleagues suddenly start ignoring you and treat you as if nothing has happened.
It is best that you first deal with the coworker and help him/her to deal with the sudden change in his/her professional life. Here is how you should react when a colleague tells you that they were fired.
Be kind when your colleague tells you that they were fired. Tell them that you are sorry to hear about their firing. Offer real help instead of just kind words. Tell them how you can help them revamp their resume and look for possible opportunities. If you cannot help them find a new job, do take them out for a coffee and let them vent. It will certainly make them feel better.
If you had a good relationship with your former colleague, make plans to take her out to lunch and give her an opportunity to vent. If you feel confident in her work, offer to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation. Share names of contacts or recruiters who may be helpful.
Let it be about them
Your focus must be on how they are feeling in the moment, rather than talking about their future and making them dread it even more. Give your co-worker some time and space to come to terms with her firing before you speak with them again about it. Make sure you do not come across as prying, rather, be understanding of their situation and offer help again.
Focus on your performance
When a colleague tells you that they were fired, it is better to ramp up your performance and let the bosses know that you wish to stay in the organization and are willing to work hard for it. Evaluate your work. Are you meeting expectations? Are you a valuable employee or an easily dispensable one?
Let them know you are there if they want to talk
If you’re close to the person on the receiving end of the bad news, it’s a good idea to reach out to them versus acting like it never happened. Approach them calmly and tell them you’re sorry. Be compassionate, kind, and supportive.
Know that the coworker who got fired would be in a very stressful place—both emotionally, as well as financially. Instead of talking about what other doors would now be open to them and make them more nervous about the future, talk about what an amazing job they did during their tenure at the organization. Talk about all the valuable work they did in their current position and how they have left an impact on the company.
Do try not to let the office turmoil get in the way of your work performance. Make sure your performance at the organization does not dip in the light of all that is happening around you. That will put you directly on your boss’s radar as a weak performer, even if you had not been there to begin with.
Do not take the situation lightly
The best way to react when a colleague tells you that they were fired most often is what we shouldn’t do. Do not tell the colleague who has been fired that they are “lucky to get out of” such a place, or anything on those lines. Avoid cracking jokes, being funny in order to make them laugh, or making fun of the situation.
Do not offer unsolicited advice
Try not to go around telling them how there are lots of jobs out there and how they will hardly take any time to get another one.
Do not speak to your colleagues or boss about it
Don’t discuss the coworker’s firing with your other colleagues or your boss until the dust is well settled. Understand that it is a stressful time for your coworker, and it is better to let them deal with the situation, unless they ask you for help specifically.
Do not get over-emotional with them
When a colleague tells you that they were fired, do not instigate them or get them over-excited about their firing and then play with their emotions. If you push them to be angry at the boss or toward the company, they may end up doing something that they may later regret. Don’t talk about things like—’This company does not deserve you’, or ‘You are better off without this company’, etc.
Do not bring the focus on yourself
Don’t tell them about how you will have to do all the extra work now that they will be gone. Try not to speak about how you are scared that you might be next in the line. Or how you will also immediately start looking for other opportunities. Try to keep the focus on them and how they are feeling. Do not bring out your emotions and state of mind.
Do not bad-mouth the person who fired your coworker
You should refrain from talking negatively or bad-mouthing the person who fired your colleague. This is because it will not make your fired colleague feel any better. It can get worse if someone hears you talk like that and report you to the boss or hiring manager.
These are some of the ways to react when a colleague tells you that they were fired.