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What to Say When a Co-Worker Is Laid Off

Watching a co-worker pack up after being laid off is saddening for those workers that made it through layoffs. Employees across most industries in the US are experiencing this solemn situation, and we should be prepared with what to say when someone we worked with gets a pink slip, so that we don't unintentionally come off as insensitive colleagues. See my tips for how to respond when you're told a co-worker will no longer be on payroll when you


  • If you were close with the person, then you should react as a friend would. Go beyond condolences and let the person know how much you will miss her, and ask if there's anything you can do to help take her mind off things. Because this person is still your friend even though she's not a co-worker, tell her you're there to listen when she needs to vent.
  • Just work acquaintances, not exactly friends? Acknowledge the situation, don't ignore it. You might feel awkward that you'll still be getting a regular paycheck when the other person is dreading her job search, but she's probably not thinking along those lines and will appreciate a supportive gesture. Simply tell the person she will be missed and wish her best of luck. Nothing sappy, just be professionally sincere. Only ask for her contact information if you really want it, but don't feel compelled to get your old co-worker's personal email address.
  • So, you're happy to see the person go? It probably goes without saying, but try not to gloat. It might be easy to ignore the person completely if you work for a large company, but if you work in close capacity to the co-worker, then it's harder to avoid eye contact. Be a good sport — smile and say good luck.
  • Have you had to say goodbye to co-workers lately?


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