by Dr. Nancy Koury King, author of Fired: How to Manage Your Career in the Age of Job Uncertainty.

My son texted me the other day saying “My friend just got fired, what do I say to him?” I imagine that others have been in this situation as well. So what do you say when a friend or co-worker is let go?

First, I suggest you tell your friend how sorry you are that this happened. Show empathy and kindness. Regardless of whether or not it was his or her fault, losing a job is a traumatic life event. Your friend needs to know you care.

Second, I suggest that you set up a time to get together in a week or so. This gives your friend some time to process what has happened. Often people lose work relationships when they are let go so having a future date to get together will be something your friend can look forward to.

Third, offer concrete help. Offer to review his/her resume. Or if you are comfortable doing so, introduce your friend to some of your other professional contacts.

Fourth, avoid giving false assurances such as “you’ll be better off without them,“ or “this will be the best thing to happen to you,” or “you will get a job in no time.” These things may end up being true, but the reality is, for your friend, losing a job is not the best thing to happen to him/her, they are not better off without a job and it usually takes a long time to find a job. So be honest and acknowledge it is a difficult experience. Then you can say that you have confidence in your friend’s abilities and hope they recover soon.

Last, if you want to help your friend, stay in touch. Job loss can be isolating and the longer it goes on, the more isolated the person becomes. Staying in touch with your friend will encourage and remind him/her that they are not alone.

Nancy Koury King, DM