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Let Go, A First Person Account

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To everyone who has been laid off I have three things to say. It’s not fair. It’s not your fault. And, you’re not alone.

Recently I took a big financial hit when I was let go from a job I’d had for twelve years. I’d like to talk about it this week in a very personal way. Hopefully my journey will help you to cope when the shrapnel hits you at work, and unfortunately, the odds are that it could.

I wrote a column and a blog for over twelve years at the ABCnews.com web site. Twelve years working for a dot.com makes it sound like I was right there when Al Gore invented the Internet. Not quite, but I do remember the strange looks from colleagues when I first put my email address on my business card, especially one guy who called it “unprofessional.”

I had a sense that storm clouds were on my horizon when my editor at ABC wrote me a terse note saying that he had “problems” with my column. Despite multiple calls and emails to my editor, the “problems” were never identified to me.

Like reading in the newspaper about a big layoff at your company, getting let go is often the antithesis of The Donald’s “Your Fired.” No, it’s much closer to an enhanced interrogation technique, where it almost seems like they bring in consultants to maximize your pain and disorientation.

Shortly after getting that email, I got a call from another editor who I never had heard of, or talked to, before. I nicknamed her the “assassin.” She announced to me that after repeated attempts to “improve” my column, ABC was going to have to drop it. I asked about those attempts, but again was told that I’d been fully informed of what they were.

Does my little dance in a parallel universe sound familiar? Problems that are never explained, discussions about the problems that never happened. Being let go would be painful enough if they treated you with dignity and respect, but clearly that is out of the skill set of most in management today.

I have no problem with anyone making the decision to drop my work. It’s just that after twelve years, I just thought I’d earned the opportunity to receive feedback so I could get a shot to renew our vows before I was shown the door. Okay, maybe I’d been to Disneyland one too many times, but I thought I was part of something after all those years I’d put in.

So what did I learn from this experience? A corporation is a corporation and not your mother. Or friend. Or distant relative. In short, they don’t care. So it’s silly for you to care. There were many times where I’d been approached by other media outlets and turned them down because I had a “home.” Now I know the true meaning of the phrase “giving you the business.”

My second big lesson was that the anger that you feel when you are dumped is a powerful force. It can eat you up inside or it can drive you to find new opportunities. Luckily for me, it led me to a much better place, Workplace Fairness.

Accept that you’re angry. Accept that you were treated unfairly. Then use that as fuel to rise above where you were before the body blow took the wind out of your sails. Recovering will probably take longer than you want it to, but living well is always the best revenge.

It was embarrassing to tell this story. But I thought that if it even helped just one person, it was worth it. I rose from the ashes, and you can too.

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About the author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. He has been called “Dilbert with a solution.” Check out the free resources available at workplace911.com. You can contact Bob via bob@workplace911.com.


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