Apparently, even well meaning friends can turn completely stupid when in the proximity of hardship.
Gotta friend who's lost their job? Please, please, please don't say:
"Enjoy your fun-employment!" or
"You're lucky. I hate my job."
These little gems of hoof-in-mouth disease are brought to you this week courtesy of AARP.
In the name of uncomfortable chatter, AARP has had the grace to come out with a tip sheet to help you through the discomfort of cheering a friend who has been slapped with a pink slip and shown the door.
AARP's Aaron Crowe wrote a wonderful ditty called "How to talk to an unemployed friend."
Turns out people have been saying the wrong thing for so long that we don't even recognize it.
Crowe says certain expressions of sympathy should just be kept to yourself. He offers these as evidence:
• "At least you have your health" (Not helpful)
• "Everything happens for a reason." (That one just makes you sound clueless).
• "Where one door closes, another one opens" (Too cliche)
• "It's too bad I don't have time to stop by." (Clearly signals your avoidance)
So what do you say? What should you do? Try these:
• "I'm sorry. How can I help?" (Same as helping someone in mourning).
• "It's on me. This is for your job search." (A $25 gift card to a coffee shop won't pay the mortgage but can help your friend prep for an interview and get out of the house.).
• Run an errand. Do a chore. Crowe says job hunting is a full time job. So offer to take the kids for a spell, rake leaves, cook a meal.
• Take your friend to lunch, a movie, a museum. (Human contact matters).
• Give your friend a job contact or invite them to a networking event. Networking helps people work.
There are still 14 million unemployed Americans and 161,000 jobless Minnesotans. Crowe's advice just may come in handy.