Want to know what it feels like to be fired?
It’s easy, go out and let all the air out of your car’s tires. Sure you can get from point A to point B, but it’s a bumpy and precarious ride. Welcome to life as a recently fired person.
Your immediate concern after being fired isn’t yourself, it’s all the colleagues, friends and potential employers that you’ll want to connect with. Your question is how you can present a good face to all of them? But the reality is that the problem isn’t a “them” question. It’s a “you” issue.
This advice is going to sound pedestrian. But you need to start very simply with a list of things that will boost your confidence and feelings of self worth. Exercise, volunteering, taking courses, escapist entertainment, etc. Generally anything that helps you to smile or otherwise improve yourself would fit into this category.
Unfortunately those are not the places that most of us logically turn. Alcohol, drugs, overeating, gambling, are the places that often provide an overwhelming gravitational pull during tough times.
So the big challenge is how to avoid negative addictions so that you can pursue positive ones. Damn, if it were only that easy to do.
But that is only the first step. What you quickly learn is how quickly salt water can be unexpectedly poured into your wounds. This happens whenever your former job is brought up. For me, luckily, it was at a dinner party. Someone asked about my job and I just went off. Trashing my boss and the way I was treated. Wow, even as it was coming out of my mouth I was surprised at my anger about the whole situation.
Anger. It’s there whenever you’re fired. So you’ve got to learn how to deal with it.
I’ve now learned how to be circumspect about the entire ordeal. But you need to realize that gaining confidence and self-esteem are just the first step. You’ve got to learn how to dispassionately discuss what happened to you in bland and forgettable language. “We didn’t see eye to eye.” “Creative differences.”
The challenge is how ultimately contradictory this process is. You need to find the confidence to not trail blood into your next job interview. At the same time you have to process your anger and learn how to talk about what happened dispassionately.
And you thought doing a job could be complicated?
My a-ha: Self-esteem and self-awareness can lead you out of the wilderness, but it’s a complicated dance.
Next installment: Networking When Not Working
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.