KM: I’ve never considered myself to be “typical” or “normal.” How does a layoff affect most people emotionally and why?
AH: In my experience, a layoff can equate to a death or other serious loss in the way it impacts the person experiencing it. Some factors that might play into this would be length of time in the position, the level of commitment to the position, the satisfaction derived from the position, and the overall contribution of the position to one’s identity. An unexpected layoff can result in feelings of shock and denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and ultimately, acceptance. These are considered stages of grief and loss.KM: After my job loss, I was surprised that I began to question my own talents and abilities – like, wow, maybe I really didn’t know what I was doing for the past 15 years – which makes no sense, since I’m a very confident person and the layoff was not performance related. Is this typical? AH: I believe that any unexpected loss leaves questions and concerns that may not feel logical, but could absolutely be considered “typical” or “normal”— if you choose to use that term (I don’t!). Examples of these questions would be: Why did this happen? What could I have done differently? KM: The feelings of anxiousness and anxiety really surprised me too – at how it spilled into every part of my life. Any thoughts about that? AH: When something seems to be generally secure, and that security is compromised, a natural response would be to question the security of everything else that at one time felt secure. It would be difficult to relax until acceptance of the loss is reached and one’s confidence in other things is restored. KM: After my layoff, I received several great job offers, but I just couldn’t get excited about them. In fact, the thought of accepting them was kind of depressing. What’s up with that? AH: Although the new job offers could be described as “great,” you likely weren’t emotionally ready to accept and explore them. You had to fully experience the impact of the loss of job #1 and come to terms with the reality of it before having the room to feel excited and willing to try new endeavors. I compare this to a break up. Some choose to jump right into another relationship, but these are “rebound” in nature and often don’t end up being long term. Some choose to avoid these rebounds altogether in order to get a better handle on themselves and to consider what they truly desire. You may be the latter. KM: Even though I’ve launched a successful new business, I still feel “unsettled.” Is this normal? AH: The unsettled feeling will pass. It takes healing and support. You can’t really put a time frame on it, as it varies from person to person. KM: What advice would you give to someone who has experienced a layoff? AH: Be kind to yourself. Invest in yourself. Surround yourself with healthy, supportive people. Utilize self-talk messages to remind yourself of your worth, despite the layoff. Pick up some literature on grief and loss and possibly speak with others—either online or in person—who have had a similar experience. I find myself telling people often that “Everything Happens for a Reason” and we owe it to ourselves to figure out what the reason is, even if it is not immediately revealed. KM: In the days following my layoff, a good friend brought me homemade soup and a big bottle of ibuprofen! What advice would you give to a friend or family member of someone who has experienced a layoff? How can they provide effective support? AH: Effective support after a loss is just being there. If the person wants to talk, listen. If the person wants to cry, listen. If the person wants to sit quietly and reflect, sit quietly with them. I would recommend that support people don’t try to “fix” the loss or downplay it, but rather allow the person experiencing the loss to do and say whatever they need to get through it. Reminding the person of their strengths and talents is acceptable, as we all need to hear how great we are sometimes, and who better to tell us than those who know us the best and love us the most! KM: Is there anything more you’d like to add? AH: If you are feeling something, it does no good to tell yourself you shouldn’t feel it. Feelings just are. There is no “proper” response to job loss or layoff. If you or someone you know is struggling with a job loss, I encourage you to find a professional or personal support network. Just hearing from Amy that my feelings made sense helped me to accept them and move forward. Oh, and I highly recommend the homemade soup remedy! Kristina Marsh is founder and Principle of Marketing Flexibility, LLC. You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. ]]>