According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are approximately 11.3 million people out of work in America today, a fact which makes it likely that you or someone you know has been touched by job loss. It is difficult to know what to say to a friend who is struggling with unemployment. Often writing a letter can provide an opportunity to consider your words in a thoughtful and compassionate way.
1. Paragraph One--A Sincere Response
Begin the letter by showing empathy. Take time to acknowledge the difficulty of your friend's situation. She needs to know you recognize that her loss is significant. Job loss can be a shocking, frustrating and stressful experience, according to a University of Florida article, entitled, "Coping with Stress During a Job Loss." The emotional reaction to a sudden lay off is similar to what someone might experience with other life-changing losses, such as death. You might say something like, "I'm so sorry about your job loss. I can't fully understand the extent of what you are thinking and feeling, but I can see how hard this is for you."
2. Paragraph Two--A Helping Hand
Continue your letter by extending your support. The positive, encouraging strength you offer your friend will impact how she sees herself, her situation, and what she does to improve it, says a Forbes article entitled, "Bounding Back from Job Loss:The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Job Hunters." Let her know you are there for her if she wants to laugh, cry, or process her current circumstances. You might use words similar to these: "I believe in you. I am going to be in this with you now and as long as you need me."
3. Paragraph Three--A Gold Star
Encourage your friend to identify her strengths. It is beneficial for her to acknowledge where she excels. According to Forbes, people who interpret job loss as a personal inadequacy or failure are less likely to pursue another job than those who view it as an unfortunate circumstance with a chance for growth in self-awareness, a re-evaulation of priorities, and an opportunity to build resilience. Share with your friend what you consider to be her positive qualities. You might say, "You are organized, respectful, and brilliant. These are three of my favorite things about you. What would you consider to be your top three qualities?"
4. Paragraph Four--A Different View
Conclude your letter by helping your friend to see her situation from a different perspective. Clinical psychologist, Susan Heitler, writes in a Psychology Today article entitled, "Job Loss: 4 Steps to Speeding Up Your Recovery," that an important step to working through the job loss is reframing it. You might challenge your friend to consider how her termination might benefit her in some way. This must be done with sensitivity to her current condition, recognizing that this idea may be difficult to accept. You might offer something like, "I know that losing your job has been a frustrating experience, but I wonder what the future might hold for you. You are always talking about your dream of starting a bakery. Maybe this is your chance."
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