Blog #5. Fired in real time: What the fallen need to hear

Image: Bob RosnerOn Friday I was fired.

It’s 48 hours later, and I decided to blog about the emotional roller coaster ride that I unexpectedly found myself riding on. I’m never going to mention the name of the company, because its not about them. It’s about anyone who has ever been fired, and the journey that we all must take after we’ve been let go.

Friends who saw me immediately after my firing have told me that I appeared to be in shock. Okay, normally I’m at best slightly tethered to reality, but even for me the tether got stretched.

Friday at 9:04 pm I got a call from a friend named Steve. His call reminded me of when the doctors in the ER are faced with an irregular heartbeat. They “zap” the patient with a electric jolt from a defibrillator to get the heart beating normally again. Steve’s call, thankfully, did that for me.

“Hey Bob. This is Steve calling. It’s Friday evening. I just heard that you had a situation with your job today. Having been in this position myself, I understand how you may feel about this. I think it’s important to tell you at this time that you have lots of friends and lots of support. Just because an idiot does something to you doesn’t mean that you can’t go on and be wildly successful. Again I want to tell you that you have lots of support. And should you want to talk or grab a cup of coffee, you know how to reach me. Mainly I just want to say that regardless of whether this was fair or unfair, I’m reasonably sure it was unfair, you have lots of support and I just want you to know that. And there are people backing you up. I would say have a nice night, it probably won’t be that, but you do have friends. I’ll talk to you soon.”

I called Steve back and he told me about his experience being fired. Only one person called him, Seattle baseball announcing legend Dave Niehaus, a guy who’d been fired more than a few times early in his career. Steve said even though we weren’t great friends, he was going to be sure that I wasn’t alone on that Friday night.

Why do so few people reach out to someone who has been fired? Sure we can all rationalize that we want to give the person space to grieve on their own.

Or does it have nothing to do with the person who was fired? Is it really all about how tenuous we all feel about our jobs. And calling someone who was fired makes us fearful, that like leprosy, we could somehow catch the firing virus.

Reach out to your friends and colleagues who have been fired. If for no other reason than you’d like them to do the same for you.

My a-ha: Offer support and friendship to people who’ve been fired. Say to them, what you’d like to hear, if the situation was reversed.

Next Week’s installment: Do you ever say the “F” word?

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 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

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.