Last month's record layoffs
left the U.S. joblessness rate at 6.8%. In all, 533,000 people lost their jobs
in November, the most since 1974. And with December traditionally being the worst month
for layoffs, chances are that if you don't know someone who's gotten a pink slip, you will soon.
So what can you say to a friend who's suddenly been booted from her job -- without making her feel worse because you pity her? We asked six recently relieved-of-duty workers for their input.Do: Take the Person to Dinner
Treating your pal to a meal helps her enjoy the "normal" pleasures that are often first to go when money gets tight. And it gives her the opportunity to spill her stress -- or ignore it altogether for an hour or two. "Nothing is more fun than going out worrying about spending the money, then having a friend pick up the check," says CJ
, who recently lost a video production job. "Good times, and it makes the food taste so much better." Don't: Take The Person to Task
"Helpful" suggestions about getting back on their feet don't always come out right. Dale, whose Web site folded, resents the line, "Why don't you take this opportunity to go back to school?" which he says comes with the unspoken suggestion " ... and incur $40,000 in loans?" at the worst possible time.
Joanna, who was working in the real estate field, loathes people who advise her to, "Get online and look for a job." "I hate when people act as if it's so easy and I'm just not doing it. Obviously I'm doing everything I can!"
Click here for five more bits of unemployment etiquette.Do: Support Her
"Getting laid off sucks, but it's also motivating me to start my book proposal," says Elise, a writer whose Web site cut jobs recently. "Other writers' encouragement and pep talks have made me excited to work on it."
Lauren, who lost her copy editor gig says that a sincere compliment about the quality of her work can go a long way in helping rebuild her unemployed ego. "Someone said that I was the only layoff that made no sense, which made me feel pretty good, even if it was in a slightly bitter way," she says. Don't: Pity Her
"Most people are sensitive -- more sensitive than is necessary," says CJ. "I think the most insensitive thing is when people are like 'Oh God, I'm soooo sorry,' as if I'm dying of some incurable disease. It's nice to be treated like everyone else and not have everyone make such a big deal about it." Do: Hear Her Out
"Initially, bitching about the industry really helps," says Ruth, whose architecture firm downsized. "Hearing gossip about how other firms are doing even worse helps you feel like you're not such an anomaly." Don't: Compare Your Situation to Theirs
It's great to lend an ear, but don't act like you're in the same boat unless you truly are. "After the layoffs, a bunch of us went out for drinks to console each other," says Ruth. "People who still had jobs tagged along to 'support' us and honestly, the last thing you want to hear is support from the 'other' side."
Dale says to avoid pick-me-ups like "I got laid off, too, but I'm suddenly so busy with freelance I can barely remember my old job!" It may seem like you're offering hope, but it can also be undermining if the person isn't as lucky as you. Do: Give Thoughtful Gifts
Most "liberated" ladies agree that a gift card for the little luxuries would be much appreciated. "I would love a Starbucks gift card so I don't have to feel guilty about splurging for that hazelnut latte," says Joanna. "I'd dig a Macy's card, so I could get necessities at the after-the-holidays sales," says Lauren.
And Ruth says anything that helps fill the hours is a good bet. "DVDs are great, because suddenly there's a lot of time on your hands."