Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Giorgio Struggles To Cope With Being Laid Off

Chapter 9: Build Your Community Part 10

I spoke to a former colleague of Giorgi’s who thought it was a “crock” that Giorgi was laid off.  “Sometimes your name just ends up on a list.”

Giorgi was devastated when he was laid off, and spent a few weeks catatonic on the couch.  “I did not see it coming.”  Many people called him telling him how wrong it was that he was let go.  But a few people he was really close with never called. “That really messed me up, not to hear from these people who I respected and I thought respected me.”  Years later he found out that his former boss told the team not to call Giorgi, because he was “so upset.”  It is hard to know why the boss did that.  Maybe he made a genuine mistake.  Maybe he was being self-serving.

Giorgio was well liked, and many people did call in spite of what his boss said.  One former report called every day, saying on the answering machine “I’m going to keep calling until you pick up the phone.”  Giorgi said it helped, but many of his friends from outside of work didn’t know what to say.  “The last think you want to hear is that you don’t have to go back to that place any more.”

Ten years later, Giorgio talks like someone who has come to grips with a great loss in his past.

I can relate, because if I had been laid off a year earlier I would have been in his shoes – utterly crushed.  I think one of the greatest benefits of “busting my corporate idol” was the mental freedom I found.

In my subsequent jobs, I never forgot that I could be let go at any time.

I realized that I would never invest all of my money in one asset, and should not invest too many of my personal connections in one place either.  It’s just too risky. So, I focused my “connection energy” on building a community outside of the workplace.

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  1. MelindaNC says

    I can agree with Giorgio. I thought people at work were friends and I was devastated when those friends would not even take my call. I wanted to connect and find out what I had done wrong so that I could correct my bad habits in the next job. I learned that like people in your previous posts, that company culture did not fit my culture. I did learn not to put all my eggs in one basket and like Giorgio to always be aware that I could be laid off at any time. Maybe I was a little gun shy because I would not put up a family photo on my desk or bring any personal items in because I wanted to be able to pack everything in a small box and leave at a moments notice. I still work that way today. I don’t trust that the last best thing I did for the company will be remembered.

  2. Greg Marcus says

    Melinda – thanks for sharing your story. I think part of it is a fear of being sued – people are afraid someone may come back and sue them over the reason they were let go. Often there really isn’t a reason, or the real reason might lead to a lawsuit. I’m glad to hear all of your eggs are not in one basket. We can’t really control what happens at work, so spreading the risk is the only way to go.

    I remember the first layoff I was a part of. I still had my job, and called a colleague who was let go. I was the only one who called. Really? She was really good, and I thought well respected and liked. All that “we’re a team and need to be there for each other” was just talk.


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