6 Terrible Ways to Handle Getting Fired


January 12, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

he holidays are over; it’s the dawning of a brand new year. You show up to the office in 2009 with a fresh approach, a bright outlook, and maybe even some new duds that Santa dropped off on Christmas morning. Then right after morning coffee you find yourself in the bosses’ office and getting the business end of a budget-cutting axe.

Frightening thought, but with the current economic free fall, it’s a real possibility. If it does happen, make sure you handle the situation correctly or things can escalate from bad to “restraining order terrible” in a matter of moments.

Here are some things to remember when facing the bearer of bad news.

    1. Don’t fall apart
      Keep your chin up and take the news like an adult. Sure you’d like to cry on the spot, beg the boss for your job, or slide him a blank check to reconsider the whole situation but it just makes you look like a liability and it confirms that firing you is the right move. Plus, that approach didn’t work when you got passed up for promotion, why would it work now? No crying, sobbing, begging or bribing. Keep your composure and emotions in check. 
  • Don’t go down swinging
    This isn’t a personal attack; it’s just business. Don’t turn the situation into a confrontation and don’t ever make it physical or bring in other uninvolved parties like coworkers or security. It’s bad enough you are unemployed you don’t need to be involved in a police investigation. Plus, your boss could probably take you in one punch. You don’t want to be fired AND embarrassed. 
  • Don’t sink the entire ship
    Don’t rat on your friends and coworkers and don’t start pointing fingers. Remember that former coworkers are also potential contacts for future employment. John from accounting isn’t going to hook you up with a name at his brother’s company if you tell the boss he is busy updating his Twitter page all day. 
  • Don’t turn to sabotage
    Once you are out the door, don’t start bad mouthing the company to their clients and competition. Don’t burn bridges if you want to work in this field in the future. It could come back to bite you on the can. If anything, be as nice about the situation as possible. Kill them with kindness. 
  • Don’t wreck the place
    If they are nice enough to let you clean out your desk and grab some documents off the computer, don’t damage company property. Just grab your personal items, email all important contacts to your personal account (you really should have done that weekly) and leave the place like you are just going away for the weekend. Stay calm and quietly say goodbye to friends and coworkers. 
  • Don’t seek vengeance
    Waiting for your boss outside his home, threatening ex-coworkers or their family or just returning to the workplace with the intent to harm are all bad ideas. It’s just a job. It’s not worth losing your life or taking the life of another. Things are never as bad as they seem.

You should stay in the good graces of your former employer. They will come in handy for references, networking, and even when filing for unemployment. The most important thing to remember after losing your job is that it could be for the best. When one door closes, another opens, and you could be just days away from an even better job.


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