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What do you say to someone who's been fired?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Someone who used to work in my office got fired. She'd been there for a long time and had done well until recently and then she took a dive. Our manager did everything possible to save her but she refused to take suggestions. So they "let her go."

A mutual friend wants me to call her. I have no idea what to say. We were not particularly close. I'm sad she lost her job but I also know she didn't help herself in lots of ways. The mutual friend gave me her phone number and really wants me to call.

Has anyone been fired before? Would you want someone like me calling you? What would you want me to say to you? I'm at a loss.
post #2 of 15
I have to admit that I'm clueless as to why the mutual friend wants you to call the woman who was fired. If you didn't know her that well, I know *I* wouldn't make the call...

That's just weird. And especially since she was fired for a valid reason (performance took a dive).
post #3 of 15
I wouldn't call her if it wasn't someone I knew very well. That just seems really uncomfortable to me.
post #4 of 15
I wouldn't call, either.
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by verde View Post
Someone who used to work in my office got fired. She'd been there for a long time and had done well until recently and then she took a dive. Our manager did everything possible to save her but she refused to take suggestions. So they "let her go."

A mutual friend wants me to call her. I have no idea what to say. We were not particularly close. I'm sad she lost her job but I also know she didn't help herself in lots of ways. The mutual friend gave me her phone number and really wants me to call.

Has anyone been fired before? Would you want someone like me calling you? What would you want me to say to you? I'm at a loss.
Why doesn't this mutual friend call her? She is the one who was given the ex-employees phone number. So she is the one who should call. Maybe she doesn't know what she would say either and so is trying to push her guilt off on someone else. This really appears to be her issue.

You can tell your co-worker that you are compassionate to the ex-coworkers situation, but you don't feel right calling someone who didn't give you their phone number.
post #6 of 15
Ditto to those who said "I wouldn't call"
post #7 of 15
I wouldn't call either. And trying to put myself in the position of someone who had been fired, I wouldn't want anyone calling me that wasn't also a good friend, especially someone I'd never personally give my phone # to.
post #8 of 15
It agree that it does seem weird that your mutual friend would want you to call her. I'm curious as to why? I wouldn't make the call no matter what the circumstances, honestly, unless you guys were close friends.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for responding. All good questions. Here's more of an explanation.

We weren't that close as friends. My cubicle was next to her cubicle and we did chat at times. I was the new kid on this particular block. She was always nice, helpful and courteous to me. My job has almost nothing to do with her job.

The mutual friend said that fired person feels devastated that she'd worked at a place for such a long time (over 20 years), she's gone in one day, two days later someone else is at her desk, and no one says anything to her. I can understand how awful that would feel.

There has been a bit of talk about it and there's a level of ambivalence. To summarize: people genuinely feel sad that she lost her job but there's also an understanding that she did not help herself in this situation. So no one really knows what to say.

There's a part of me that understands her devastation so I want to somehow commiserate with her on a human level. But I feel like I was someone more on the periphery of her work life (ex: we never had lunch together) and I was not a personal friend and probably would not have formed a personal friendship with her.

I asked the mutual friend what she wants me to say and she said, "Just say hello and tell her that you'll miss her." Mutual friend is a personal friend of fired person and she feels terrible although she also knows why it happened because she knows all the details, much more than I know. I still work with mutual friend and she and I DO work together a lot so I do worry that she'll be annoyed with me if I don't call. And I like mutual friend and she and I have more of a personal relationship. Yes, I'm totally aware that mutual friend is putting pressure on me but I honestly believe she is doing it because she, too, is horrified at how quickly one can disappear.

The way I see it now, I have to decide which is worse: my one-time discomfort with a phone call or a longer term antagonism with someone I see daily. Not a great choice. But in this real world, if I need to choose, I'll make the phone call.

So THAT's why I want some advice on what to say.
post #10 of 15
Even after the explanation, I still would not telephone someone who had not personally given me their phone #. And I would still think it was odd for an employee who I was not friend's with and did not give my phone number, to call me if I was no longer at the job. If she was there for 20 years, her long time co-workers and friends that knew her personally should be the ones calling her.

If she had an email address I knew that she could be reached at, and I sincerely was wondering if she was okay, I might send a quick note to say, "We miss you here at work. Hope things are going well for you. Let me know if you need anything or want to chat. Take care!". Short and sweet and puts the ball in her court.
post #11 of 15
I'm kind of uncomfortable with the professional boundaries your mutual friend is violating. The point for you seems to be that you have to keep working with this person, so look at it in terms of your relationship with her not the former employee. She (mutual friend) is putting pressure on you; what response on your part is of the greatest benefit to you?
post #12 of 15
if this was someone you wanted to call, to check in with her or to tell you you'll miss seeing her or whatever, then you would do that. but to have someone else pressure you to call and say things that you don't even sincerely mean, no way. tell the mutual friend that you're not comfortable calling her and you're not going to do it.
post #13 of 15
That falls under the category of "just because this mutual friend wants me to do something does not mean I need to respond to her, even."

People can say what they'd "like" us to do all the time, but I wouldn't even comment on it. If this friend is pushy and questioned me whether I had done it or not I'd simply say "when you speak to her please give her my best."
post #14 of 15
Eh, if it was a good friend, I would tell them that they were welcome to my want ads on Sunday, or give them websites for job searches, etc. But in this case, I would not bother. She doesn't sound like a good enough friend.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MariaMadly View Post
I'm kind of uncomfortable with the professional boundaries your mutual friend is violating. The point for you seems to be that you have to keep working with this person, so look at it in terms of your relationship with her not the former employee. She (mutual friend) is putting pressure on you; what response on your part is of the greatest benefit to you?
Right. Your real issue is your friend at work, not the person who was fired.
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