Getting laid off is very emotional. Our first Five on Friday question for the laid off advisory council asks about emotions:
What were your emotions like the first day, and how did you handle them?
A common theme seems to be shock, and for some of us, relief. There is also, as you’d expect, anger, especially the first time it happens to you.
Nancy: During the actual meeting I was angry but that soon turned to tears when I stated to my boss that it felt like I did something wrong, not just an “organizational realignment”.
I was calm returning to my office, lying to my assistant that I was sick and going home. While waiting for the train I called my son and then the flood gates opened. I regained my composure on the train simply because I did not want to embarrass myself. It was a very long 40 minute train ride that I do not recall.
When I returned home, it was early just past 9 am, I recall my husband’s look of surprise when I walked in the door. As I retold the events of the morning I went through the emotions of sadness, disbelief and anger. As I began to contact other family members and friends I was in shock, no more crying, I was very calm as I relayed my story. After that task was complete I sat down, had a drink and watched a movie. My husband picked up lunch including a decadent dessert for me to drown my sorrows. Later that afternoon, I logged on my computer and starting scheduling meetings with my peers trying to find another position.
Daryl: Relief… thinking about it vs being done with it.
Sydney: I’ll be honest, it was rough.
Let me set the stage a little. It was 2008. Remember the job market in 2008? Yeah. The software company I was working for was being acquired by a privately held corporation, but the division I worked for was self-contained, filled a unique market niche, and was quite profitable. My coworkers and I had zero reason to believe that our jobs were in danger. I was also relatively newly remarried. My oldest child had just graduated high school, heading to college, and I was going to move my middle school-aged child from the Twin Cities to Montana.
At 9 a.m. the day the acquisition was final, my work cell phone rang. The VP of our division read a canned statement. The entire division was being shut down. They were giving us two weeks’ notice. There would be no severance package (any protection due to the original company being domiciled in California was invalidated by the acquiring company being in the Texas).
Gotta admit, I was pretty floored. I had not been exploring other opportunities, I had not even really been checking in with my professional networks. I think I skipped the first stage of grief (denial) entirely, and went straight to anger. I closed my laptop and turned my phone off. Then I went to the gym. I went to the gym every single day for at least a month.
Pete: I have been laid off more than once.
Other than the first time 1997 I was pretty calm about the others. The first time wasn’t all that hard since I was a contractor finishing up the first iteration of Target’s first bridal registry product branded “Club Wed”. I was a little ticked off at first because I contributed a lot to the product. It turned out I was the most expensive person and they felt they didn’t need me anymore. It wouldn’t be the last time this was the reason for me leaving. I can go into the others as needed. (You can hear Pete talk about his experiences by listening our first ever podcast)
Scott: I don’t think it really sank in, in some ways, just like the day of the announcement.
Being there was such a habit that it didn’t feel very real, from a certain perspective. The goodbyes were tough, but this disembodied feeling of relief was also there, like knowing you needed the change because it hadn’t been a good environment. A few co-workers and I had discussed it as an abusive relationship on a professional level, and the feelings were a mirror of what we’ve often heard in those situations.
My Answer: As you can read on my timeline, I kind of suppressed my feelings, a lot.
I wasn’t happy with the culture, and had been considering moving on. But, the money was good and I had two sons in college……so I was hoping to stick it out. It took a long time for me to really face my feelings about the move, mostly I was in denial and shock. I also, like Sydney, found a way to keep really busy. I wrote a novel.
What were your emotions like? Share your thoughts in the comments, or by emailing us. We hope to collect a lot of comments, and post them here for people to see.