Layoff Etiquette: Mind Your P’s and Q’s.


EBAY (STOCK QUOTE:EBAY) recently announced plans to layoff more than 1000 staffers, that's one out of every ten that work for them.

In a gloomy market, darkened by a crippling credit crunch that has reached the real estate and financial sectors, the outlook for the job market (Hewlett Packard (STOCK QUOTE: HPQ), Starbucks (STOCK QUOTE: SBUX) or AIG (STOCK QUOTE: AIG)) is far from sunny.

Even if you have kept your job, the reality is you probably have a friend or family member or neighbor that’s suffering from job loss.

How do you keep that meeting at the grocery store from being awkward? Etiquette expert Peter Post of the Emily Post Institute (and the great grandchild of the eponymous manners maven) weighs in on minding your layoff P’s and Q’s.

Here are a few Dos and Don’ts:
DO: Be Genuine.
Be sincere about the person’s situation. “Offer your condolences, if you will, or your sympathy at the fact that they lost a job or that you heard that it happened,” says Peter Post.
DON’T: Pry.
Don’t ask a question, like “what did you do,” says Post. Keep it very simple and general.” Let them lead the discussion.
DO: Feel Free to Address the Loss if it’s a Friend.
“If the individual is someone you know reasonably well, I think it’s okay to say something,” says Post.
DON’T: Mention in Passing
Yelling across the room over drinks, ‘I heard you lost your job,’ is probably not the best way to offer support. If it’s a friend, let them bring up the topic. “If it’s an acquaintance, then it’s not the first thing you should bring up,” says Post.
DO: Offer to Talk
If a friend invites you out to meet, share a drink and talk, then you should be supportive. “The talk is the significant part of the offer,” says Post. Jotting off a casual email offering to help drown job loss sorrows over beer is not a gesture of great significance or even very helpful.
DON’T: Offer Money
“Offering money unsolicited is not an appropriate thing to do because it implies things about the person that you just don’t know, “says Post. “The person may be fine financially, and offering money might create an awkward moment that they don’t need to have.”
DO: Offer Leads
“If you know an individual who has been laid off and you’re willing to help them or you have information about a possible job opportunity, ask if they would like the information,” says Post. “Leave it at that. Don’t be miffed if the person doesn’t accept your offer to help out with job recommendation. Don’t just blurt it out if they haven’t engaged you or aren’t talking about it in a situation.”
Don’t: Offer Comfort Using Social Networking Web sites
“Sometimes the electronic means can be somewhat impersonal,” says Post. Face-to-face communication adds a personal touch that cane be comforting.

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