What do you say to a co-worker who has received a lay-off notice?
Most of us want to ignore that difficult conversation with a colleague who has received a termination notice. Or vent. How you react, to act with civility, depends upon your relationship and the laid-off person’s reaction to the announcement.
If you don’t have close ties, then the laid-off coworker probably doesn’t need to hear from you.
If you have worked closely, talk in person. It’s difficult. The focus needs to be entirely on the person who has been told he no longer has a job.
Gauge your coworker’s reaction to your initial comments. Some people react stoically; some are sad; some are angry. Most are in shock. This is a time to read body language. If it’s obvious the person is having a hard time talking without becoming emotional, then respect that and don’t talk on and on.
If you have close ties to the laid-off worker, offer to help any way you can. Offer to be on call for assistance. It can be as simple as she needs a book she left behind or she wants to talk because she misses conversations about the industry.
Tips to react as a compassionate and empathic coworker
Don’t be inquisitive if you haven’t worked closely with the person.
Talk face to face to read the person’s body language.
Ask “Is there anything I can do to help you now?”
Tell the person you will miss him or her.
Don’t turn the conversation to yourself; it’s not a time to talk about similar situations you’ve experienced.
Don’t offer empty platitudes such as assurance the person will find another job soon or this is actually a good thing.
Respect your coworker’s feelings. Don’t be aggressive about going out to lunch or helping carry out boxes.
Realize it can be very lonely cleaning out a cubicle so don’t abandon a good friend by ignoring him.
Contact the person later to continue the relationship. It’s a shock to leave the workplace and the usual conversations.
The only advice I found on this topic
How to talk to a friend who's been laid off